The 2020 season was a difficult one for the New England Patriots offense. For Jakobi Meyers, however, it was a breakout year of sorts.
After opening the season as a backup player, he was able to establish himself as a starter-level contributor within the team’s offense from November on. Despite only hitting his stride until the second half of the season, Meyers ended the year as the Patriots’ leader in targets (81), catches (59) and receiving yards (729).
The former undrafted free agent therefore has a solid foundation to build upon heading into his third year in the system. Still, he knows what he has to do in order to continue his trajectory.
“I feel like last year I had a couple little ‘brain farts’ here and there,” Meyers said during a media conference call on Tuesday. “Just mental lapses, where I would know what to do but it wouldn’t click with me right away. Just trying to erase as many of those as I possibly can.”
The Patriots being able to return to the practice fields this offseason — something they were unable to do last spring due to Covid-19 regulations — should help him address these mental errors. After all, Meyers appears to be more of a practical than a theoretical learner.
“I think every player is different, and it’s always about finding what’s best for you. For me, it is just getting the reps in, honestly. Just being able to go, mess it up a couple of times, so now I know what I did wrong, what I was thinking when I did it wrong. And then figuring out how to prevent that from happening again,” he said.
“But, like I said, everybody definitely handles it differently. Some guys like to be here to study and learn and whatever they have to do to get to 100 percent. But I was one of those guys who had to show up and just come in here and just mess it up a couple of times so I know what happened.”
Meyers was the Patriots’ most consistent receivers during the 2020 season, and one of the few bright spots within the team’s struggling passing attack. To continue playing that prominent a role, however, he will have to prove that last year was no fluke.
After all, New England made some major investments during the offseason to bolster its passing game. Wide receivers Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne were brought in during unrestricted free agency, as were tight ends Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry. The Patriots later also added TCU’s Tre Nixon in the seventh round of the draft.
All five of them will be competing against Meyers and the returning wide receivers for practice reps and playing time. In order to set himself apart, Meyers is trying to win the mental game.
“Everybody’s big, everybody’s fast. They wouldn’t be here if they didn’t have either/or, or possibly both,” he said. “Just understanding the game as a pro and as a complete football player is something I definitely want to continue to strive for and definitely get better at.”
Meyers successfully doing that would be the latest chapter in a remarkable success story. A former college quarterback who transitioned to wide receiver, he did not hear his name called in the NFL Draft before eventually finding his way to New England. Even though he did not bring the same athletic skills to the table as others, he made the Patriots’ roster as a rookie and has left his mark on the team.
Now, it’s all about continuing to do just that.