The New England Patriots as a whole had a disappointing 2020 season, finishing with their first losing record in two decades and out of the playoff picture for the first time since 2008. Despite all of that, however, there also were some encouraging moments and positive player developments throughout the entire year. Just ask Jakobi Meyers.
The former undrafted free agent started his sophomore campaign buried on the depth chart, but after injuries suffered by Julian Edelman and N’Keal Harry stepped into the spotlight. He never left it and eventually finished the season as New England’s leading receiver: no other Patriot saw more targets (81), caught more passes (59) or registered more receiving yards (729) than Meyers.
His impressive rise from underutilized backup to offensive cornerstone was not what stood out the most for him in 2020, though. When recently asked about this by Patriots.com’s Megan O’Brien, he named the Patriots’ ability to battle adversity.
“The way the team fought through adversity,” Meyers said. “This was a hard year for everybody — we were losing, Covid, couldn’t see your family, it was stressful, but nobody ever gave up. They came out here this last game, gave it their all. Everyone’s going to the offseason, keep fighting, keep working, come back and be ready for next year.”
Before finishing the season with a 7-9 record, the Patriots experienced numerous offseason departures, a Coronavirus outbreak within the organization, and personal tragedy. Through it all, however, the team kept working towards a common goal — something head coach Bill Belichick also referenced during his media conference call in the aftermath of New England’s season finale against the New York Jets.
As for Meyers, he was right in the middle of this process as one of the team’s starting wide receivers. In this role, he made an impressive leap forward to manifest himself as a player to keep building on heading into an offseason filled with uncertainty.
When asked about his plans for the weeks and months ahead, Meyers was pretty straight-forward: get better.
“I put some things on tape, so now guys know who I am and they’re going to try to stop me,” said the 24-year-old. “So, now I have to figure out other ways to get open, go to keep trying to read coverages and beat different leverages. Just being able to counterbalance everything that I’ve done so far.”
Meyers is among nine wide receivers currently under contract with the Patriots, and one of the few pass catchers who can be considered de facto locks to return in 2021 — a group that also includes former first-round pick N’Keal Harry as well as tight ends Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene. As the most productive member of this group, he is projected to play a noteworthy role in helping New England’s offense get back on track after what has been a lackluster season for the unit especially in the passing game.
“I put a lot of good things on film, and I’m going to try to build off of those things,” Meyers said. “I hope to come back and be better and I could be part of the movement going forward — the rebuild, the success that comes with it, everything that’s going to change. Hopefully that’s something that I can help out with and just be better next year.”