The former first-round pick, 29th overall, of the Indianapolis Colts found himself in a surprise transaction just days before the start of the 2017 season. The New England Patriots traded backup quarterback, Jacoby Brissett, to the Colts in exchange for wide receiver Phillip Dorsett. The move added Dorsett, know for his explosive speed, with another speedster added in the offseason, Brandin Cooks.
Through the halfway point of the season, Dorsett has had minimal impact on the field. Dorsett has been targeted just eight times for four receptions and 85 yards. However, he does hold a gaudy, 21.3 yards per reception average. In two seasons with the Colts, Dorsett hauled in 51 passes on 98 targets for 753 yards and three touchdowns. He did this in 26 games as a Colt.
In defense of his slow start, Dorsett had no time to prepare with the team in the offseason as he was acquired very late in August. The bulk of his receptions came in Week 2 when he caught three passes for 68 yards in a surprise start against the Saints. But now, with the expected absence of Chris Hogan, Dorsett has an opportunity to thrive in the second half.
“Yeah, Phil’s gotten better every week,” said Coach Bill Belichick on Wednesday. “We’ve expanded his role and scope, things that he’s learning and areas that he’s responsible for every week. He’s a smart kid. He works hard. He’s making progress.”
By all accounts, Dorsett has put in quite a bit work in practice and has the trust of his coaches. Now, he will need to earn the trust of his quarterback. Perhaps the most important prerequisite to success as a wide receiver in Foxboro. Despite not contributing much on the field, Dorsett has dressed for every game thus far, a likely reward for his progression.
“When it comes to learning a new offense, you just have to put in the work,” Dorsett said on Thursday. “You put in as much work as you can and learn as much as you can each day, and that has been helpful for me.”
“Chemistry comes from repetition and practice and taking advantage of the opportunities when they come, and they don’t come often. You take advantage of the reps that you get in practice and make plays. That is how you get comfortable in the game. As a football player, you have to stay ready at all times because, in sports, things happen, and I’m still on top of things.”
The Patriots have struggled lately on offense, particularly in the red zone. Dorsett’s speed rivals that of teammate Brandin Cooks, however, he is not as good at tracking the ball downfield. What Dorsett can bring to the Patriots offense is another speedy threat underneath. The return of Martellus Bennett will help mitigate the loss of Hogan and replace the nothing that Dwayne Allen has given the Patriots so far. Pair that with a healthy Rob Gronkowski and there will be a lot of open space in the second level of the defense.
Just having Dorsett on the same field as Cooks presents plenty of problems for the defense because of each players speed. Factor in Gronkowski, Bennett, and the bevy of multi-talented running backs and you have a recipe for success.
The opportunities for Dorsett will be there in the second half. Now that he has spent several months with the team. it is time for him to seize the opportunity and show why he was a first-round draft choice.
– Ian Glendon is the National Editor for cover32 and the Managing Editor for cover32/Patriots. He covers the NFL and New England Patriots. Like and follow on Follow @iglen31 Follow @cover32_NE and Facebook.