Over the last three weeks, Jakobi Meyers has taken over the role as the New England Patriots’ go-to wide receiver — one that previously belonged to Julian Edelman. With the former Super Bowl MVP currently sidelined after undergoing minor surgery on his knee in late October, however, the door was opened for somebody else to fill his spot in the starting lineup. That somebody is Meyers, and he showed it again on Sunday night.
The second-year wide receiver led the Patriots with five receptions for 59 yards against the Baltimore Ravens’ top-ranked scoring defense, playing a pivotal role in his team’s 23-17 victory. His contributions as a receiver were not the only part of his performance that stood out and was reminiscent of Edelman: Meyers also did something his veteran teammate was semi-regularly called upon to do as well.
Meyers was asked to throw a pass versus Baltimore. He did, and the play turned into a huge success: the former undrafted free agent found Rex Burkhead in the end zone for a 24-yard score to give New England a 13-10 lead in the late second period. The pass was the first of Meyers’ career in the NFL, but one that was a few weeks in the making as he noted after the game.
“It’s something that we practiced over the last couple weeks, I just never knew when it was going to come up,” he said during his postgame media conference call. “I’m surprised it came up during a rain game, but I still got it a little bit. And I knew I had Rex out there — Rex is a playmaker, a former basketball player. I trust Rex, put the ball in the sky, let him take a chance on the ball. That’s all I did, I just put it up there, he did the rest.”
Like Edelman before him, Meyers is no stranger when it comes to throwing the football. He was a high school quarterback when he committed to N.C. State, but moved to wide receiver during his redshirt freshman season in 2016. Nevertheless, Meyers’ experience and abilities as a passer have caught the eye of the Patriots’ coaching staff as Sunday’s game shows.
“Well, he can throw. I think you saw that,” said New England head coach Bill Belichick after the game. “It was a pretty nice pass and great catch by Rex.”
While Belichick’s remarks on the play came in rather short, the Patriots’ usual quarterback said a bit more about Meyers and his ability to throw the football: Cam Newton, who once coached Meyers as part of an all-star football team selected by the quarterback’s charitable foundation, praised the young wideout for being able to adapt to the situation and get ready without any significant lead-up to the play.
“He did pretty good without being able to warm up or anything,” said Newton. “The ‘hot’ was covered on that play, which was me — goes to show you the respect in the passing game — but he did a great job. ... Once a quarterback, always a quarterback. I’m pretty sure Julian Edelman is somewhere and smiling.”
Edelman, of course, was asked frequently to throw the football since his first attempt during the 2014 playoffs (coincidentally against the Ravens as well) ended as a 51-yard touchdown pass to Danny Amendola. He now has eight career passing attempts on his résumé, of which seven were completed for a combined 179 yards and two touchdowns. Two of those throws came just earlier this season during New England’s loss against the Denver Broncos.
Meyers is not yet on Edelman’s level as both a receiver and a part-time passer, but he is making noticeable strides in both areas. Most importantly, he is feeling comfortable no matter the situation he is being put in.
“I don’t know what the coaches see exactly to call them, but I know one thing: they’re going to make sure we’re prepared regardless,” the 24-year-old said on Sunday. “If a situation like this is going to come up, they’re going to show you every look possible — what to do if this goes wrong, if that goes wrong. I had a pretty good idea that if that wouldn’t have went right how to make it right. Our coaches do a great job preparing us; they’re the best in the business, in my opinion.”