As the Patriots enjoy their much-needed Bye Week, let’s analyze how the wide receiving unit has performed.
Overall Patriots Receiving Unit Break Down
The New England Patriots are still evaluating their play on both sides of the ball after their week nine 26-3 victory against the Indianapolis Colts. The team put up a fantastic effort, particularly on defense, but there are still many areas to improve.
Due to wide receiver DeVante Parker’s absence from a knee injury, Patriots rookie Tyquan Thornton (Great Name) and top receiver Jakobi Myers started, with Kendrick Bourne spending most of his 48 offensive plays on the outside and in the slot. Meyers and Bourne both lost possession of the ball, and Indianapolis’s secondary, which included Stephon Gilmore and Kenny Moore, kept the Patriots wide receivers from developing a rhythm. Combined, the Colts limited New England’s receivers to only nine catches on 14 targets.
Tight end Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith could not reach the end zone despite Indianapolis having trouble covering tight ends. Smith grabbed three receptions for 21 yards, while Henry caught all four of his targets for 50 yards. While Smith and Henry had more success this week than the previous, I hope to see them improve even more.
Meyers has consistently been performing as WR1 for the Patriot’s offensive unit throughout the season. Meyers signed to the team as a free agent in 2021 and hasn’t looked back since. This season, the second-year receiver has quickly emerged as the primary target for Mac Jones and the Patriots offense, being targeted 52 times already. His receiving rates are solid, he’s essentially leading the receiver unit in every state, and he has yet to play in every game! What more could you possibly want from an undrafted free agent?
DeVante Parker (Minus The Injury)
Before his injury in the week eight matchup against the Jets, Parker led the Patriots with 15 receptions for 321 yards and one score. On the Patriots opening offensive drive, Parker was the intended receiver of a slant pass and seemed to suffer a knee injury. After the initial assessment, Parker, 29, proceeded to the sideline medical tent, spent a short period with his teammates, and then went to the locker room for additional testing.
The injury seemingly limited Parker, forcing him to not participate in the week nine victory against the Colts. As of now, more information is needed regarding whether or not the six-year receiver will be able to play after the bye week.
Let’s all hope Parker can play against the Jets in week eleven, as he is an integral part of the current receiver core.
A head injury for the Patriots receiver impeded Agholor from participating last week.
Agholor’s first season in New England has been a pretty good one. So far, he has 15 receptions for 227 yards. Even if he’s not a long-term solution at wideout, the Patriots were looking to Agholor to play a significant role in the passing game in 2021 after seeing the investment in 2019 first-round pick N’Keal Harry yield underwhelming returns. In addition, Agholor’s injury will put more pressure on Jakobi Meyers and Kendrick Bourne.
After a successful first season in New England, Bourne had a discouraging, drama-filled training camp that caused him to start the season at the bottom of the depth chart for receivers. Although Bourne’s playing time has slowly increased after being benched in Week 1, his performance has remained much behind that of 2021.
Last season, Bourne had 29 receptions for 422 yards and two scores through nine weeks. He had 14 receptions for 147 yards and no touchdowns as of this Week 10 bye. Additionally, Bourne missed a game due to an injury and had his name circulate in numerous trade speculations before not being dealt with last Tuesday before the trade deadline.
Need To Step It Up
Listen, I know these guys are still young and inexperienced, or in the case of Ty Montgomery, injured, but these receivers need to improve. As the season continues, I remain confident that receivers Tyquan Thorton and Ty Montgomery will improve exponentially.
In Sunday’s 26-3 victory over the Colts, Thornton played 42 possible 63 offensive snaps, receiving one of his four targets for five yards, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. Thornton has only caught one ball in his last three games since scoring two touchdowns in Week 6’s victory against the Browns.
For Montgomery, his primary focus should be coming back from injury. Ty remains on the injury roster after sustaining a knee injury in a preseason matchup against the Raiders. The injured receiver has been spotted rehabbing on the practice field numerous times. However, Montgomery is yet to return to practice. Instead, the receiver remains on the Patriot’s injury reserve roster. Upon the return of Montgomery to the active roster, I expect to see him be an integral part of the receiving core. The same can be said for Thorton, assuming he can get more experience and playing time as the season goes on.
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