January 20, 2022

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N’Keal Harry’s dumbfounding attempt to field punt…

3 min read
N'Keal Harry's dumbfounding attempt to field punt...

Anybody care to explain why N’Keal Harry, who never returns punts, was on the field doing so for the New England Patriots during this play in the first half against the Buffalo Bills? Did we mention the swirling winds and freezing conditions? Gunner Olszewski has been an All-Pro-caliber return man. Why did the Pats need to use a first-round bust helping out?

Patriots fans are quick to blame Harry … but in reality the coaching staff should be put in the crosshairs of the criticism. Why is he even logging quality snaps at this point?

He’s done nothing but disappoint ever since he was taken in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. He’s never come close to showing flashes of his days at Arizona State. If he couldn’t get on the same page with Tom Brady, how could he do so with Cam Newton or Mac Jones?

Harry should’ve never been in this position to field a punt in a game with massive AFC East implications. He can’t be relied upon to run a route or get separation from a defensive back. Tasking him with something he hasn’t done all season is almost unforgivable … and not at all characteristic of this coaching staff.

Patriots WR N’Keal Harry gives Bills life with awful punt return gaffe.

He tripped … twice. The ball hit his helmet as he stumbled. He looked like a freshman playing varsity. Somehow, Harry was the deep option there on his first punt return attempt of the season … with Olszewski serving as the shallow man/blocking option? We thought Harry finally had a role carved out for himself as a blocker given his performance recently. How was the reverse scenario not the special teams strategy?

The Bills took over at the Patriots’ 14-yard line after Harry’s blunder and immediately tied the game at 7-7 with a Josh Allen TD pass. In what was a dominant first quarter for New England (they forced a turnover and ran the ball down the Buffalo defense’s throat), Harry essentially erased this game-changing run from Damien Harris.

There’s a reason Harry’s only played more than 50% of the snaps on offense once this season. In fact, he’s seen a total of 37% compared to last year’s 68%. He’s a liability, and the Patriots managed to get better at the wide receiver position to make up for his shortcomings.

No need to throw him out there with a spotlight role on special teams. We already know the outcome.

N’Keal Harry’s dumbfounding attempt to field punt gives Bills immediate TD response