New England Patriots: How N’Keal Harry can unlock offense’s potential

The New England Patriots need N’Keal Harry to be a force down the stretch and into the playoffs if their offense is to operate at an elite level.

With their schedule reaching its toughest point of the season, we will get a chance to see if the New England Patriots are actually the team we have thought they are so far.

Whether they are or not, the recipe for long-term success will not come from relying almost exclusively on Julian Edelman, Mohamed Sanu, and James White in the passing game.

Despite that being a solid group, the premier defenses of the league will find ways to limit their effectiveness and that is where a guy like Harry can take the pressure off and open up things up for Tom Brady.

How Have They Handled Top Defenses?

So far the two best defenses they have played have been the Bills and the Ravens who they scored 10 and 16 points against respectively. With only one offensive touchdown and 224 total yards from scrimmage, the Patriots offense struggled against the Bills. Brady was 18/39 (46 percent) for 150 yards and an interception.

Against the Ravens, Brady was better as he really clicked with Edelman and Sanu, completing 65% of his passes for 285 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

However, two-thirds of Patriot’s receptions went to Sanu and Edelman and 76% of the receiving yards were had by them and White.

Not a very balanced attack.

What Harry Provides

N’Keal Harry is something that the Patriot’s receiving core lacks. A big, athletic, deep threat.

His 6′ 2″, 225 lb. frame will be a match-up nightmare as he will likely line up across from opposing team’s second or third best corner. His presence forces the attention of the defense because now when teams play the Patriots, the threat of being burned on the deep ball could be a very real possibility.

It will be interesting to see what other ways they will utilize his skill set, but any way they use him he will help to take the pressure off the rest of the receiving core.

Of course, this is all contingent on Harry living up to the hype of being the first wide receiver the Patriots have taken in the first round of the Draft since Terry Glenn in 1996, and also his ridiculous highlights from his days at Arizona State.

Only Time Will Tell

Harry is coming off an ankle injury that he has been dealing with since the summer and has not played a single real game snap with Brady yet. That certainly puts him at a disadvantage in terms of developing that rapport that Brady holds in such high regard.

Here is what Brady had to say in an interview on WEEI’s Ordway, Merloni & Fauria:

“Unfortunately for N’Keal, he got hurt early in training camp. He didn’t have the development when other guys were practicing for over two months,” Brady said. “He’s working hard. He’s extremely hard-working. He wants to do it. He’s got a great edge about him. I really love that. I really love his tenacity and he’s learning every day, and he’s working hard to get better. I think that is all you can ask of a younger player.”

Hopefully his practice reps and preseason snaps will have him where he needs to be to contribute to the offense right away.

Belichick has had nothing but good things to say about his recent progress, saying that he is better than he was two weeks ago. If you’re from New England, you know Belichick doesn’t make comments like that unless he really sees something the rest of us probably don’t. In Bill we trust.

If Harry can make a significant impact and elevate the offense to another level, it might be just what the Patriots need to make another Super Bowl run.

Next: Patriots: Week 11 roadmap to the Philadelphia Eagles

We will get a chance to see what he can do Sunday when the Patriots take on the Philadelphia Eagles in their first match up since Super Bowl LII.

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