Brandon LaFell hadn't played a competitive football game in eight months leading up to yesterday's game against the Jets.
It definitely showed.
Seeing his first action since Super Bowl 49 against the Seahawks, the New England wideout struggled through a horror show of a day when he mishandled six balls on eight targets, according to Pro Football Reference. To LaFell's credit, one of his two catches went for 19 yards on 2nd-and-20 up on the sidelines before he was immediately sandwiched by a pair of Jets defenders.
Otherwise, LaFell was fighting the ball all day, and he wasn't alone. Julian Edelman dropped a touchdown pass in the third quarter, while Rob Gronkowski dropped what would've possibly been a 75-yard scamper to the end zone on the very first play of the second half, although Brady's pass was about three inches too far in front of The Mountain.
Hindsight is always 20/20, yet we should've figured that LaFell was going to have trouble re-acclimating himself to game speed after such a long layoff. No one could've predicated a 2-for-8 day at the office, but it was clear that his timing, rhythm, feel and balance needed to be broken in.
"If I had to give myself a grade, it'd be an 'F,' " LaFell said postgame. "I let the ball get out of my hands too many times. Tom threw some good balls. I should've caught them. Overall, we got the win. I just gotta get back into it. We got a short week, dust the cobwebs off, and come back out here and play a better game."
"First game, last game, it doesn't matter," he continued. "I expect more from myself. And my teammates expect more from me. I'm just really down on myself right now, but I'm happy for the other guys around me.
"They got their level of play up and held on for us and made plays for us when we needed them."
We know LaFell is a good receiver, and after experiencing some of the same struggles early last year when trying to develop a rapport with Brady, LaFell rounded into form and finished the year with 74 catches for 953 yards and seven TDs.
His first outing of the season was as rough as it could be, but LaFell has all the skills and talent to have a bounce back game against the Dolphins on Thursday night.
Photo Credit: CBS Boston