Jakobi Meyers returned to the lineup last Sunday against the Lions after missing two games with an injury and showed no rust had accumulated during his time off, as he tied the second-best yardage output of his career with a seven-catch, 111-yard performance. Meyers also found the end zone for the third time in his career, as the dependable receiver continues to produce no matter who is throwing him the ball, whether it was Tom Brady with two decades of experience or Bailey Zappe making the first start of his own career.
"I would say I played a lot of sports growing up, so I'm a little used to change, I'm used to just bouncing around going from baseball to basketball practice," said Meyers on Friday afternoon of his consistent production regardless of QB. "I know that looks like it has nothing to do with it but I'm just used to adapting really quick."
Since breaking in with the Patriots as an undrafted free agent in 2019, the former quarterback has improved immensely while following a path that had been blazed by others before him and has become the most dependable receiver on the roster while playing just about two-thirds of his snaps from the slot.
"It's hard work," said head coach Bill Belichick on Friday when asked about Meyers' development and consistency by Patriots.com. "It's taking the coaching and the instruction and applying it to fundamentals, to understanding our offense, to understanding the opponent's defense, and leverage, and spacing and things like that, which players like Julian [Edleman] and Jakobi are both good examples of players who played quarterback, however good they were or weren't a quarterback, that's not really the point. The point is that they've seen the ball coming from their hand, as opposed to always being on the receiving end of it. Kind of where you wouldn't want to throw, and how a receiver can help a quarterback, or how a receiver can kind of fool a quarterback and make it hard for the quarterback to throw it to them. So, I think in terms of being quarterback friendly, let's call it, that's something that I'd say came naturally to him."
"Just playing quarterback in general, I feel like when you start you want to get the ball out of your hands so you need guys to get open quicker because your clock might be a little faster than when you settle down," said Meyers, bringing his quarterback experience to his understanding of the receiver position. "I just know when I have a new quarterback or a guy that's not used to me I try to get open faster when I first start the game. As the game goes along I try to take my time and do what I do best."
With 20 catches for 261 yards, Meyers is still on track to match his career highs from last season despite having missed two games. Last year with Mac Jones in his rookie season, Meyers posted 83 catches for 866 yards and continued improvement should put him in the range of 100 catches and 1,000 yards this year. He also comes in ninth in the NFL in Pro Football Focus' receiving grades so far for 2022, while he's 27th overall for receivers in Football Outsiders' DYAR metric.
Whether it's simply tough contested catches in big spots or drilling down into the advanced analytics, Meyers has developed into a receiver that teams should be taking note of.
"He's developed route running concepts and techniques at multiple positions, inside, outside, play-action, drop-back, quicker throws, knowing when he has more time to operate, knowing when he has to get open quicker, things like that, based either on the timing of the play or the situation" continued Belichick. "So, he's a very smart, savvy football player on a lot of levels. Not just in the passing game, but in the running game and in other formations and things like that. It's been a great time of growth for him. It's really fun to see guys develop like that. Come in and not be very far along but then progressively just keep stacking, and stacking, and stacking and stacking."
"I feel like my standard for myself is pretty high," said Meyers. "People told me what I was going to be or how good I could be and I just want to be way better than what they thought I could be and way better than even I thought I could be when I first switched to receiver. I'm just hungry."