FOXBORO — New England Patriots receiver Jakobi Meyers has been among the biggest storylines this preseason. Through three games, Meyers leads all NFL receivers with 19 receptions for 325 yards and two touchdowns.
However, when Meyers was finally able to get his chance to connect with quarterback Tom Brady on Thursday night during the Patriots’ 10-3 victory over the Carolina Panthers, it didn’t go well. Meyers’ inexperience as an undrafted rookie showed, while third-year Patriot receiver Phillip Dorsett flourished.
With the 42-year-old signal caller starting and playing three offensive drives, Brady targeted Meyers three times in the game. They did not connect once. It showcased a rapport which still needs to be developed.
“I think for all of us, you play with guys that are maybe new to the offense and so forth, and sometimes they think they’re not part of the route, and then the team plays a certain coverage, and they’re part of the route,” Brady said after the game. “That’s part of early in the season, that’s part of this time of year. We don’t have the full week to prepare, we’re kind of putting things together on the fly. So yeah, those are learning moments for all of us.”
The learning moment Brady was addressing was on the Patriots’ first offensive drive. With the offense facing a third-and-8, Brady looked to Meyers on a deep ball. Meyers did not anticipate the throw coming his way and stopped running the route. The ball fell to the turf and it forced the Patriots to punt on the next play. Following a glance from Brady, the pair went to the bench following the miscommunication.
“I wouldn’t say (it was) intimidating, but I was like, man, I’m really being yelled at by Tom Brady,” Meyers said. “Good, bad or indifferent, I’m going to take everything he says because at the end of the day, he’s played forever, you know? And if he says it, he’s done seen a lot of things and I barely been here, I haven’t had a sip of coffee yet. So, I’m going to just take everything he says with an open ear and learn from it and get better.”
Throughout much of the preseason, Meyers has made his catches against opposing No. 2 or even No. 3 defenses. And with the Panthers playing many of their starters, Meyers said it definitely provided a different feel.
“You know, it’s not college anymore,” Meyers said. “They get paid to play the game. So, I just got to pick up my game so I don’t have any more 0-for-3 performances (with Brady) and I can give him (Brady) my best game every day.”
While the connection with Brady is obviously the most important as the regular season gets ramped up, Meyers is clearly well-versed with rookie quarterback Jarrett Stidham. Meyers finished Thursday’s game with seven receptions on nine targets from Stidham and totaled 74 yards.
“Me and (Jarrett) Stidham got a good chemistry right now,” Meyers said of the fellow rookie, who was Brady’s backup on Thursday. “So, if he puts it somewhere, I’m going to do my best to either catch it or make sure nobody else does.”
The ability to bounce back after a troubling start was still a promising sign for Meyers.
“I wouldn’t say ‘pleased,’ I’m not really satisfied with it; I mean I’m happy that I was able to get through an adverse moment, but it still kind of bothers me,” Meyers said. “But the fact that we were able to get a win at the end of the day, (I’ll) take it.”
Like Brady, Meyers knows it’s all part of the building process, too. And that adversity could be prove to be a good thing in the long run. After all, how much was Meyers really able to learn as he ran through defenses during the opening two weeks of the preseason against the Detroit Lions and Tennessee Titans? And while the numbers were impressive, the fact he was able to face some stronger NFL competition was a step in the right direction.
“You kind of get comfortable, and that’s the one thing you don’t want to do as a Patriot — get comfortable,” Meyers said. “So, I had this moment, and I’m definitely going to learn from it. (I’ll) probably get chewed out a little bit, but it’ll be all right.”