Patriots

How N'Keal Harry's teammates, Tom Brady felt about Patriots rookie's debut

How N'Keal Harry's teammates, Tom Brady felt about Patriots rookie's debut

N'Keal Harry finally saw action Sunday, playing 32 snaps in his NFL debut for the New England Patriots against the Philadelphia Eagles.

And by his account, things went pretty well.

Here's what the rookie wide receiver posted on Twitter and Instagram after catching three passes for 18 yards in the Patriots' 17-10 win over the Eagles:

View this post on Instagram

Glory be to GOD. Always. Good team win! #LFG

A post shared by N'Keal Harry (@nkealharry) on

Harry's Instagram post earned plenty of love from his Patriots teammates in the comment section. A small sampling:

Defensive end Deatrich Wise Jr.: "Happy for you bro. Continue to work and improve your skills"

Defensive backs Devin and Jason McCourty: "Only up from here bro ✊🏿✊🏿✊🏿"

Wide receiver Phillip Dorsett: "Only the beginning 🙌🏾"

Harry saw an increase in snaps after Dorsett left the game with a concussion in the third quarter. So, how did his quarterback think he played?

Tom Brady was a bit less effusive when asked about Harry on Monday morning.

“N’Keal has worked hard,” Brady told WEEI's "The Greg Hill Show" in a radio interview. "He got some opportunities, and we’ve got to just keep getting him up to speed. He missed a lot of football, so we’re going to try to incorporate him the best way we can and use his skills to see if he can be a productive player for us in the second half of the year."

Brady has been hesitant to pump Harry's tires this season as the Patriots' No. 32 overall pick works back from an injury that sidelined him for the first nine games. After New England's poor offensive showing in Philly, Brady sang the same tune.

“I don’t want to make a bunch of predictions and (say) 'We’ll do this' or ‘We’ll do that,' " Brady said. "It comes down to all of us doing it — not speaking about it, but actually going out and doing it."

Looking for the best unfiltered Patriots conversation each week and throughout the offseason? Listen and Subscribe to Tom E. Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast!

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

If Patriots just did this, the offense would see a big improvement

If Patriots just did this, the offense would see a big improvement

Every week during the NFL season, Tom E. Curran & Phil Perry will go head-to-head and offer their own takes on a Patriots or NFL-related topic. This week: Call me crazy, but if the Patriots would just do THIS offensively, they’d see a big improvement. 

Bang it to the tight ends. So far this season, the Patriots have 26 catches for 349 yards and a touchdown from Benjamin Watson, Matt Lacosse, Ryan Izzo and Eric Tomlinson. The 27 catches have come on 38 total targets. Tomlinson’s long gone and Izzo hasn’t played since Week 6 against the Giants. Lacosse, meanwhile, has missed five games. The 38-year-old Watson has been targeted twice in the past two games but has pulled in 12 of the 17 passes sent his way in the past six weeks. Last season, a dinged-up Rob Gronkowski caught 26 passes for 304 yards by himself and that came on 43 targets. It’s astounding that an offense that’s been as reliant on the tight end as the Patriots has only directed 38 passes to the position through 12 games. Even in 2016, when Gronk missed a big chunk of the year, the team was still able to get 55 catches and 701 yards from Martellus Bennett. I have a feeling the Josh McDaniels has noticed the absence of the tight end in their offense. I’m also sure that part of the reason it hasn’t been anything more than an afterthought is A) they’ve had a revolving door there with Lacosse injured and Watson suspended for the early part of the year; B) they’ve had woeful pass protection especially on the left while Isaiah Wynn was out and needed to keep a tight end in at times and C) they don’t have dynamic players at the spot. But last week, the Patriots got a much-missed seam pass to Lacosse for 23 yards and a 32-yard catch-and-run from Watson. Could that be a motivator to get the ball out there a little more often? Couldn’t hurt.

***

I'm not sure there's anything they can do right now to see a BIG improvement. But there are improvements there to be made, no doubt. I'd focus on the red zone because that's the area of the field where there's the most obvious potential for growth for the Patriots. There really is no reason for the Patriots not to be at least a little more effective at scoring touchdowns when they get inside the 20. They're currently 24th in the NFL when it comes to red-zone efficiency at 48.89 percent. That's a tick below bad offensive football teams like the Giants (53.12 percent, 22nd), Bears (59.46 percent, 14th), Bills (63.64 percent, 9th) and Dolphins (67.74 percent, 4th). How do they improve? Go big. Go bigger in the passing game. Get those tight ends you mention, Tom, out there and allow them to use their bodies to post up on defenders in an area of the field where space is tight. Use N'Keal Harry, even if it's only as a specialty player in there, because he knows how to make a back-shoulder catch. Maybe give Phillip Dorsett and Jakobi Meyers a breather when you're in there. And go big in the running game deep in opponent territory. Multiple tight ends. Maybe an extra offensive lineman at times. Since Isaiah Wynn's return, and since LaCosse has been healthy enough to be a factor as a blocker, the run game has improved. Especially out of two-tight end sets. In the last two weeks, they've run for 4.2 yards per carry out of 12 personnel (one back, two tight ends). That number was 3.4 yards per carry in Weeks 2-11 without Wynn. They picked up 3.3 yards per carry in games without Wynn this year, whereas they've averaged 4.4 yards per carry the past two weeks -- regardless of personnel package. They should be able to run it closer to the goal line with the offensive line and tight end spots healthier. And if they prove they can do that, that'll open up the play-action passing game down there. Poof. Just like that, the red-zone offense will be better and the Patriots will see more points on the scoreboard as a result.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

That 617 Life Podcast: Who made who? Bill Belichick or Tom Brady

617-life-pic.png
NBC Sports Boston Illustration

That 617 Life Podcast: Who made who? Bill Belichick or Tom Brady

The people's court is now in session. The topic of debate: Who made who, Bill Belichick or Tom Brady?

The two New England Patriots greats will always be inextricably linked for the success they've had in creating the Patriots dynasty. Together, the duo has won six Super Bowl titles and has overseen the most dominant two-decade stretch in NFL history.

Still, the question of who is chiefly responsible for the team's success has long been a debate among the New England faithful. And this week, Shanda, Cerrone, and Leroy take a deeper dive into the case for both sides on the latest episode of "That 617 Life Podcast".

Cerrone kicks off the "trial" by defending Brady, arguing that his on-field play and his arrival to the team snapped the Patriots out of the funk that they were in for most of the early part of their franchise's existence.

[The Patriots] were the team that nobody wanted to use in TecmoBowl. Now, for everybody in America, you're cheating if you use Tom Brady in Madden.

Furthermore, from Cerrone:

There's teams in the NFL over the past 20 years that still haven't defeated Tom Brady. Still, over 20 seasons. There are organizations and fan bases that still have not seen a victory in front of Tom Brady.

As for the case for Belichick, Leroy laid out a simple case for Belichick and called him "possibly the greatest coach in sports history."

Hear more of the trial and thoughts on the latest Boston sports stories on the latest episode of the "That 617 Life Podcast", which drops every Friday as part of the NBC Sports Boston podcast network.

CURRAN: Are we watching Brady's final day with the Patriots?>>>

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.