Source – In order to get some insight into what 2019 first-rounder N’Keal Harry has to do to win [Tom Brady’s] trust, Nick Underhill of TheAthletic.com [subscription] spoke to three wideouts who didn’t have long stays with the Patriots. Chad Jackson played 14 games for the team after being taken in the second round of the 2006 draft, P.K. Sam was waived after playing two games as a 2004 fifth-rounder and Chad Johnson played his final NFL games with the team in 2011.
Jackson and Sam both said that learning the offense is tough for players coming out of college and the team’s limited success with homegrown wideouts lends support to that view. Johnson was more experienced, but felt he “didn’t really have time to come in and build that currency” with Brady.
Jackson and Sam also noted that Brady is looking for “perfection” and both players dealt with injuries that hindered their ability to get fully on the same page with the quarterback. Sam offered advice for Harry about how to avoid a similar fate.
“You keep your mouth shut, do what you’re asked to do and just understand it’s a new journey,” Sam said. “You go from a superstar in your college to back on the bottom, which he won’t because he was a high draft pick, but still. He has to learn the ropes. Just keep your mouth shut, keep your body healthy, and everything will work out.”
You know, I actually love this. I recognize it’s coming from Nick Underhill and not the Patriots directly. But I hope like hell N’Keal Harry reads this and takes it to heart.
He can obviously learn a ton from the veteran who have been successes in this system. And by all accounts he has been. He’s worked with Julian Edelman in Brady’s back yard. And Edelman has been public about how when he came to New England in 2009 some veterans showed him the ropes and some ignored him. And he wants his legacy to be the guy who was willing to be a mentor. Plus Harry has gotten coaching from Deion Branch and Troy Brown. And you can’t find three better guys to show you how to thrive in the Patriots McOffense.
But if you really want the full education, you need to go the other way. To learn what not to do. How not to conduct yourself. How not to do that Vulcan Mind Meld with Brady that every receiver needs to in order to make it here. So enter … The Failures. Those guys uniquely suited to teach Harry by way of their own, terrible examples.
I’ll let PK Sam off the hook because he was a 5th rounder. But the two Chads can be the Goofuses to Branch and Brown’s Gallants. The non-criminal versions of Prison Mike:
… to put him on the right path.
I mean, I can live without Chad Ochocinco’s pathetic excuse-making about how he “didn’t have time to come in and build that chemistry.” Because he had the same summer, training camp, preseason and regular season. Plus the same 24 hours in a day that God gave Leonardo Da Vinci and Ben Franklin and Wes Welker. And he spent his “time,” as Tedy Bruschi put it, on Twitter instead of learning his playbook. And produced 16 catches total for a team that went to the Super Bowl. “No time” my ass. But still, he’s a good bad example to learn from.
As is Chad Jackson, who has the distinction of being the highest drafted wideout of the Belichick Era. And, quite possibly his biggest strikeout. (Note: I’m going with Ras-I Dowling. But if you say it’s Jackson I won’t fight you. 1A/1B.) One of the first things he did as a rookie was take the mic at a team event and start doing a weird freestyle that made all the veterans look at each other like “What the actual does this kid think he’s doing?” and it all went down a 45-degree hill from there. With no brakes. Jackson was one of the most impressive physical specimens to ever wear a Pats uniform, but was never going to put in the effort to figure out what they asked of him if he had the life span of a sea turtle. So there’s a guy who could’ve used someone telling him, “Keep your mouth shut and do what you’re asked to do.”
So those are good guys to learn from. My guess is Harry will. The guy seems determined and hard working. He’s been notable by the few things he’s said, all of which sound like they were written by the Patriots Coaching Assistant in Charge of Cliches. Which is good. Maybe the team should bring The Failures in to teach a seminar to the whole rookie class. If they can get the time off from whatever day jobs their working now. But if they keep Harry to just his teammates, Branch and Brown, I’m sure he’ll be just fine.