N'Keal Harry's Inactive Designation vs. Ravens Doesn't Add up
After being activated from injured reserve last Saturday evening, the expectation was we would see rookie wide receiver N'Keal Harry take the field for the New England Patriots in Week 9 against the Baltimore Ravens. Lo and behold, when the inactives were finalized 90 minutes before game time, the former first round pick was part of that list, which meant his regular season debut would be pushed back another two weeks at the very least.
So why was Harry, who had been practicing for the past two weeks leading up to the game, not active for the Week 9 primetime matchup? Head coach Bill Belichick said the decision came down to a matter of numbers.
"(N'Keal Harry) was inactive because 46 other players were active," Belichick said during postgame press conference following the 37-20 loss Sunday night.
Despite 53 men being on the active roster throughout the regular season, only 46 of them are allowed to be active on gameday. While the roster management aspect of the decision could make sense...does it really in this case?
Belichick then doubled-down on his reasoning for Harry's inactive designation during his weekly interview with WEEI's "OMF" Monday evening.
"Look, we have to make seven players inactive," he said. "The ones we make active feel have a bigger role in the game."
When asked if Harry is close to returning, Belichick said "We'll see. We'll see what happens this week, I don't know."
These comments made by Belichick don't make sense. On a night when the team was in 11 personnel for every snap on offense, the use of their receivers was obvious in the endgame stat line. Julian Edelman and Mohamed Sanu both had 10 catches, and Tom Brady threw the ball 46 times.
New England's offense only ran the ball 17 times, which is 11 carries below their per game average (28.1). Belichick and Josh McDaniels knew they could expose the Ravens defense through the air, which is why Sony Michel received just four carries, which is the fewest he's had in a game he's been fully healthy in since he entered the league (he also had four carries vs. Bears last season, but he exited that game with a knee injury).
When an offense is running 11 personnel, that means they will have three wide receivers on the field. Now, while Edelman and Sanu played 100% of the offensive snaps, and Dorsett was one snap shy of that, rookie receiver Jakobi Meyers played just a single snap.
In an ideal situation, with Harry fully healthy and prepared, he would bump Meyers down on the depth chart because of his talent and because of the investment New England has in him. That means if it came down to choosing one or the other for the final active roster spot on gameday, Harry would get the nod.
Yes, Belichick did say the players that were active the coaching staff felt would have a bigger role in the game. But how can you believe that reasoning if Meyers only played one snap the entire game?
So why, after two weeks of practice and preparation, was Harry inactive for Sunday night's game against Baltimore? The real answer remains to be revealed.