How a 13-point performance gave Patriots offense hope for rest of season

Ryan Hannable
November 26, 2019 - 6:00 am
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Sunday against the Cowboys, the Patriots offense totaled just 13 points, the fewest the unit has scored all year, which only continues the narrative of Tom Brady’s ongoing frustration with the offense and the over-reliance on special teams and defense.

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Despite the subpar statistics — only 282 total yards of offense (second-lowest of the season) — there was a different feeling afterwards for the Patriots. Perhaps there is some optimism that this offense, currently 17th in football, can figure things out for when it matters most down the stretch and into the postseason.

“We have a very good team,” Tom Brady said Monday on The Greg Hill Show. “I think our team will improve as we on offense improve. I think we can do that by — again, it comes down to trust, and dependability and consistency. That is what we’re trying to do. Those things just don’t magically come together. You’ve got to work at them and we’re working at them. Hopefully we can reach a higher level.”

Even Brady sounded a lot different following this ugly win compared to some others over the first 11 games of the season. 

The offense was without Mohamed Sanu (ankle) and Phillip Dorsett (concussion), which meant rookies N’Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers joined Julian Edelman as the only real active receivers in the game, which meant a ton of playing time. Harry played 57-of-70 snaps, while Meyers played 54.

And both players contributed in a big way. Harry caught the only touchdown of the game — a beautiful back-shoulder catch in the corner of the end zone for a 10-yard score — and then Meyers recorded four receptions for 74 yards.

While Brady only completed 5-of-13 throws going to those two players, including a few drops along the way, the pair showed they can be counted on, and seemed to get back into the good graces of their quarterback.

"I think both those rookie receivers really answered the call,” Brady said on The Greg Hill Show. “When you’re put in that position and you don’t have a lot of football under your belt, you’re playing on a team that is competing for titles and so forth, there’s a lot of pressure. Both those guys have embraced it, and I think Julian (Edelman) has really shown great leadership for that whole group. Hopefully if we can get everyone healthy, we can see what we can do.”

This is really the first time all season we’ve heard this kind of praise from the 42-year-old when it comes to these two players. Granted Harry hasn’t been on the field and Meyers hasn’t seen that much playing time, but this is a positive development.

Dorsett and Sanu are expected back potentially this week, but very soon regardless, and all of a sudden the Patriots have a wide receivers depth chart of Edelman, Sanu, Dorsett, Harry and Meyers, which really isn’t all that bad. Especially now knowing Harry and Meyers have the capability to contribute when their names are called.

Meyers will likely be relegated to a situational role, but Harry could potentially be a difference-maker in the red zone. After going 1-for-3 against Dallas, the Patriots are scoring touchdowns on 47.8 percent of their trips, which is good for 25th in the league. The 6-foot-4 first-round pick can help in this regard, not only with the back-shoulder plays like we saw Sunday, but also potentially some fades and him making some contested catches.

While Edelman is still the only wide out to truly have the unquestioned trust of Brady, having a few more options in the mix certainly improves the feeling when it comes to the Patriots passing offense.

It wasn’t just the passing offense that gave off some optimism in the game, as it was the running game as well.

As a team, the Patriots finished with 101 yards on the ground, which were the most since Week 6, and just the fourth time all year the unit has eclipsed the 100-yard mark. Part of this was the return of Isaiah Wynn, who had been on injured reserve since Week 3 with a toe/foot injury.

"He's great,” Brady said. “It was great to see him out there. He's been working really hard.”

Wynn played all 70 snaps and should get even better as the games go on and he gets acclimated to playing again. After all, he’s only played nine quarters of football over the last two seasons.  

So, while scoring 13 points typically wouldn’t be very encouraging for an offense, considering the poor weather conditions as well as who the Patriots were missing, Sunday’s performance was a positive.

And maybe the offense can do enough to get it done after all.

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