New England Patriots

  • The Patriots’ wide receiver group had quite an interesting afternoon on Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium.

    Everyone on the Patriots’ receiver depth chart came away with their own individual story, some promising for the Pats, others not so much. But based on how it went over the summer, not much of it comes as a surprise.

    We can start with the good: Jakobi Meyers made one of the Patriots’ biggest catches of the day and avoided any glaring negative plays. There are other positives to report. But as you might expect from a seven-point effort by the New England offense, the wide receivers came out of the day with more “downs” than “ups.”

    We typically do Ups & Downs for the whole team, which we did again Sunday. But you could do one on the receivers alone from this game. Here’s a closer look at every Patriots receiver and the day they had in Miami…

  • Jakobi Meyers

    Oct 31, 2021; Inglewood, California, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Jakobi Meyers (16) carries the ball against the Los Angeles Chargers in the second half at SoFi Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Chargers 27-24. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Oct 31, 2021; Inglewood, California, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Jakobi Meyers (16) carries the ball against the Los Angeles Chargers in the second half at SoFi Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Chargers 27-24. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    The fourth-year pro, who’s playing for a contract on a one-year tender, was the Patriots’ most consistent and dependable receiver over the course of camp and the preseason. So it makes sense that he carried that over to a strong season opener, catching four of his six targets for 55 yards and reeling in an impressive contested 27-yard catch on third-and-7, with the Pats down just 10 points at the time.

    Meyers will never be the most explosive receiver, but he’s got good hands and a high compete level, so he will come up with big plays at key times. Early on, he looks like Mac Jones’ best option for a gotta-have-it play. He will also be a go-to guy to move the chains on third downs. They’ll need other guys to make big plays more consistently, but they at least know they can depend on Meyers to contribute.

  • DeVante Parker

    Sep 11, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard (25) breaks up a pass to New England Patriots wide receiver DeVante Parker (1) during the second half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

    Sep 11, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard (25) breaks up a pass to New England Patriots wide receiver DeVante Parker (1) during the second half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

    Locked in as a top-2 receiver entering the season, Parker had a compelling summer. He started red-hot, then cooled off in the middle weeks, then began to make plays again late in the preseason. Parker is the most physically gifted (healthy) wideout on the Pats’ roster, so he’s going to be depended upon to make explosive plays in key situations, particularly in the red zone. They’re going to need a lot more from Parker than what they got in Week 1.

    Granted, he drew one of the toughest matchups possible against the Dolphins’ Xavien Howard. And on Mac Jones’ opening-drive interception, Howard got away with a clear penalty. But Parker was surprisingly quiet in his first game against his former team, which you would think came with some extra motivation. They’re definitely going to need more from him to win games this season, and it’s likely they will get more in most other weeks.

  • Nelson Agholor

    MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 11: Nelson Agholor #15 of the New England Patriots runs up the sideline after making a reception during the first quarter of the game at Hard Rock Stadium on September 11, 2022 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)

    MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA – SEPTEMBER 11: Nelson Agholor #15 of the New England Patriots runs up the sideline after making a reception during the first quarter of the game at Hard Rock Stadium on September 11, 2022 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)

    Combine Bourne’s big catch in the fourth with Agholor’s back-breaking fumble, and perhaps you have a situation to watch on the depth chart here. Agholor looked explosive when he got the ball in his hands, and could’ve had a bigger day if Jones hit him on one of his multiple missed deep balls. But the fumble is inexcusable. It would’ve been a barely serviceable game for him without that mistake.

    Agholor had a strong summer and, if he can protect the ball, will continue to get big opportunities in the passing game. But it wasn’t the most exciting start, in what looked like it could be a step forward for him. It’s a long season, but Agholor is already in a spot to have to bounce back.

  • Lil’Jordan Humphrey

    Aug 19, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Lil'Jordan Humphrey (83) runs the ball during the second half of a preseason game against the Carolina Panthers at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    Aug 19, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey (83) runs the ball during the second half of a preseason game against the Carolina Panthers at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    Believe it or not, there’s something to write home about with Humphrey in his Patriots regular season debut. He saw the field for a handful of snaps, mainly as a blocker. If the Patriots continue to show enough trust in him to sprinkle in his snaps, perhaps he’ll see targets as well. Humphrey is their biggest receiver and also contributes on special teams, so it looks like he’ll be able to carve out a variety of roles.

  • Looking Ahead…

    The Patriots offense gets a big-time test in Week 2, going on the road to face a talented Steelers defense. But their weakness is at cornerback, which will be an appreciable drop-off from the Miami matchup. So, if they can protect Jones up front and give him opportunities to throw, there’s a good chance the windows will be a little bigger. Look for Parker, especially, to make more plays in this game.

  • Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @realmattdolloff. You can also email him at mdolloff@985thesportshub.com.