COMMENTARY | A few months ago, would you have believed that one of the team's biggest offensive fixtures is a receiver who caught just 21 balls for 235 yards last season? Would you have believed that he would almost match that production in just three games? Yeah, me neither. You probably also wouldn't have believed that the Patriots almost lost to both the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets, but the NFL is a crazy league.
That player who has served as the offensive fixture is Julian Edelman, who has been the team's most pleasant surprise so far this season.
It's been a rough start for the usually explosive New England offense. There has clearly been a struggle getting everyone on the same page, and the team is very fortunate to be sitting at 3-0. Although they haven't been putting up huge scoring numbers, Julian Edelman has clearly become the security blanket that Wes Welker used to be. Edelman's yard totals won't blow you away, but his ability to simply catch the ball and keep the offense on the field has been huge. That's when you know the New England offense is in rough shape; when simply catching the ball and staying on the field is a positive.
Someone call Randy Moss, please.
Over the past few years, Edelman has shown flashes of his ability to produce. He never got a huge opportunity, as he was often buried on the depth chart and forced to make an impact on special teams. Still, he always had a way of showing fans that if the team ever needed him, he'd be ready. That time is now, and he has not let down. He is not Wes Welker by any stretch, but the comparisons will become legitimate if Edelman continues the production over a larger sample size.
He has posted 27 catches, 201 yards, and two touchdowns in the first three games. Without Edelman, there is a very real possibility that the Patriots would have lost to the New York Jets. He caught the ball 13 times, and was Brady's only reliable target. New England won by just a field goal, despite Edleman's efforts. Also, if not for Edelman, there is a very real possibility that Tom Brady would have completely lost his mind on the field and gotten Aaron Dobson cut on the spot.
He was a huge part of the team's win against the Buffalo Bills as well, where his two touchdowns could have been the difference between a win and a loss. It's crazy to think about, but the Patriots very easily could have lost their first two games of the year against bad AFC East opponents if not for Edelman.
Going into the year, Edelman seemed to be a bit buried once again. While the team didn't have a ton of reliable weapons, he was still seemingly behind Amendola, Gronk, and Vereen in the passing game. With all three injured, Edelman has been the one offensive player not named Tom Brady keeping the Patriots afloat.
In a very short matter of time, Julian Edelman has made quite the impression with the Patriots. For a while, he was simply a nice special teams player who provided some emergency depth at receiver. Suddenly, he has become Brady's safety blanket while also being the team's most pleasant surprise so far.
Mark lives in the Boston area and has been covering New England sports for various blogs over the past 4 years. He has been featured on Fox Sports Yardbarker, Fox Sports, and Sports Illustrated "Hot Clicks", and has been published on Celtics 24/7, Bleacher Report, and Sports-Kings.
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