October 1st, 2018. I had that date circled on my calendar when the news broke in the beginning of the New England Patriots training camp. Amidst the playdates, doctors appointment and other assorted events I wanted to be aware when Julian Edelman returns.
My 3 year old son and I received matching JE11 jerseys this past Christmas. I recently finished Jule’s biography – Relentless – and felt I got to know the person on a more personal level. His suspension caught me off guard and upset me.
Following the initial disappointment came the acceptance. Edelman would return and help lead the wide receivers and the Patriots to victory. Besides, the Patriots had a very well-stocked pass catcher cupboard, right?
The first four weeks of the season were much more difficult than imaginable. The wide receivers were decimated by injuries and ineffectiveness. Prior to Sunday’s victory there were very real questions about the team and if they had lost whatever magic fueled the Patriot way.
What can the 32 year old, former seventh round quarterback from Kent State (in case you hadn’t heard that) contribute to the team? When we last saw the fiery, spark plug, he was making insane catches and crushing Falcon fan’s dreams. Where does he fit in the offense and what can we expect?
The wide receiver room has a desperate need for the experience and professionalism of the veteran. Phillip Dorsett is in his first year of expanded responsibility. Chris Hogan has thus far been fairly ineffective. And Cordarrelle Patterson is raw. Josh Gordon provided a lift against the Miami Dolphins; however, he is the ultimate wild card right now. Julian Edelman knows the playbook inside and out. He knows the language and verbiage that the coaching staff and Tom Brady are communicating. Jules can bring the perspective of a guy that’s seen it all, while providing the experience of a veteran.
When a football team suffers from the lows of a tough NFL season, they could use a lift. Julian Edelman can provide the emotional well that the other players in his unit can draw from. He has been seen pumping teammates up along the sidelines. Keeping things loose when the game gets tight. He has seen it all and will lift them up for the rest of the season.
A Connection with Brady
His on the field knowledge is unparalleled. He knows all the routes and all the plays. X, Y, slot doesn’t matter. He will know his assignment and all the other players stepping on the line with him. Edelman brings a unique ability to get open. The wide receivers have suffered from a lack of separation. In his absence the defensive backs have been able to key in on the pass catchers. Rob Gronkowski has had more attention on his routes and the complementary pieces have not stepped up. Edelman brings that sneaky quickness that allows him to find the open spot on the field and get that separation that Brady will see and fire it in there.
Jule’s connection with Brady is deep. When he was starting out, he rented out a basement room in Brady’s house in order to be available at a moment’s notice for a throwing session. He’s been there for losses, he’s been there for the biggest wins. They know each other’s body language as Brady alluded to in his press conference. This may be his biggest positive. Tom Brady can get comfortable knowing that there is a guy he trusts and understand on the field in those tough moments.
This is an exciting time in Patriot Nation. They bounced back against a tough divisional opponent. Emotions are riding high. They are entering a tough stretch of the schedule that they need to make some ground up. With Julian Edelman back in the fold, I have no doubt that this team can rise to the challenge. They will make that noise and fight for playoff spots and seeding positions. Buckle up and get ready to Go Pats!
All photos courtesy of Getty images unless noted otherwise.
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