The job of any NFL coach is to put their players in the best position to succeed. Some suggest Bill Belichick and Co. have failed at least one player in this area.
Have the New England Patriots put WR DeVante Parker in the best situations to show his worth? The Boston Herald’s Karen Guregian says no. Guregian calls the Patriots’ coaching staff out–specifically defacto offensive coordinator Matt Patricia–for not finding the right ways to implement the weapon the team traded to obtain this offseason.
“Over the course of the first two games, he’s been on the field for a majority of the offensive snaps,” Guregian explains. “And produced next to nothing. He’s had just one catch for nine yards on four targets. Lil’ Jordan Humphrey has as many catches. Making matters worse, two of Parker’s targets have resulted in Jones’ interceptions. So something has to change. Parker needs to get more involved, or ultimately have his snap count whittled down.”
Jones barely seems to look Parker’s way on most passing plays, and when he does, he’s only throwing him the ball in 50-50 situations. Since the two men don’t have much chemistry and arm strength isn’t one of Jones’ top qualities, these passes have been losing gambles for the Patriots.
“Play-caller Matt Patricia and the collective of coaches putting the offensive game plan together every week need to put Parker in better positions to succeed,” Guregian argued. ‘Forget the jump balls. Patricia needs to do a better job of scheming him open in the weeks to come, starting Sunday against the Ravens. That means having him run more quick slants, in-cuts, or short crossers. Just get him the ball, and see where it goes from there.”
The lack of route diversity makes Parker a much easier cover, especially when you consider he’s a bigger, more physical receiver who has never made his name by creating a ton of separation at the line of scrimmage. Parker is at his best, bullying his way into a position to put himself between his defender and the ball. Are those contested catch situations? Yes, but there are other ways to tap into this skill.
“While it was easy to see his contested-catch ability during the summer when observers noted he was the type of receiver the Patriots wanted N’Keal Harry to become, it behooves Patricia to dial up plays that put the ball in his hands with room to run,” Guregian continued. “Because right now, the back-shoulder throws, deep fades, and 50-50 balls aren’t working. Part of that is on Jones, part on Parker, but it also goes back to play-calling. Parker’s strength isn’t gaining separation on go-routes. He hasn’t been able to beat anyone down the field. So Patricia needs to see if he can spring Parker with shorter routes over the middle. If the Patriots try that, and Parker remains unproductive, cut back on his snaps, and hand them over to Bourne.”
It is possible Parker may be the latest bust in the Patriots’ string of relatively high-profile wide receiver acquisitions. However, Belichick and his assistants owe it to themselves, Parker and the Patriots fanbase to at least put the veteran WR in a position to do what he does best.
When Will N’Keal Harry Return for the Bears?
Patriots fans will likely always have at least a mild interest in Harry’s career. There were such high hopes for him in New England when he was drafted in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Things didn’t work out, and he was traded to the Chicago Bears this offseason for a seventh-round pick.
Unfortunately for Harry, he suffered an ankle injury during training camp. The injury required surgery, and he was shelved for eight weeks. That timetable began in early August, so Harry could be ready to debut for the Bears sometime in October.
Before Harry suffered the injury, most agreed Chicago was a great landing spot for Harry as the team is without a No. 1 wide receiver. Harry could be in a good spot to revitalize his career, but he’s got to get on the field first.
Patriots Notes and Quotes: Biggest Bill Belichick Mystery?
CBS Sports Radio’s Maggie and Perloff posted an interesting, Belichick-themed poll on Twitter on Thursday night.
If you could get Belichick to come clean on one of the biggest mysteries around his coaching career, what would it be? The candidates on the poll were “bugging of locker room,” “Deflategate,” “Spygate,” and the “Malcolm Butler benching?”
I have a lot in common with many of the people who chose to participate in this poll. At the time of publishing this article, the Butler benching in the Super Bowl was winning the poll by a landslide. That’s also what I picked.