Julian Edelman’s Value to the Patriots Has Never Been Clearer

The offense has plummeted in his absence.

Julian Edelman by Jeffrey Beall on Flickr/Creative Commons

Julian Edelman by Jeffrey Beall on Flickr/Creative Commons

Sometimes in sports, a player’s value is most evident when he isn’t on the field. For the last three years, Julian Edelman has been a critical component to the Patriots’ offense. But since he’s been out of the lineup with a foot injury over the last two months, it’s clear his presence on the field isn’t just important for the Patriots to play at a high level. It’s necessary.

New England dropped its fourth game in six weeks Sunday, losing to the Dolphins 20-10 in Miami. All four of the Patriots’ losses on the season came after Edelman exited Week 10’s contest against the New York Giants with a broken bone in his foot.

The effects of Edelman’s absence have been exacerbated due to other extenuating circumstances: Rob Gronkowski’s sprained knee, Danny Amendola’s knee injury, a depleted offensive line, and an undermanned defense. But the line of demarcation between the Patriots appearing to be destined for an undefeated season and limping into the playoffs can be drawn right where Edelman clutched his left foot in pain in the Meadowlands Nov. 15.

The Patriots posted 35 points per game with Edelman in the lineup this season and 25 points per contest while he was sidelined. Their success rate on third down without Edelman has decreased by nearly 20 percent.

Tom Brady’s numbers have taken a significant nosedive as well. In the 10 games Edelman started this season, Brady completed almost 68 percent of his passes for 3,043 yards with 24 touchdowns, three interceptions, and a 111.1 quarterback rating. In the seven weeks without Edelman, Brady has only completed 59.45 percent of his passes for 1,727 yards, 12 touchdowns and four interceptions. His QB rating has dropped to 89.1 as well.

Edelman is currently slated to return for the Patriots’ first playoff game, which takes place in two weeks. He may not be at 100 percent, but the Pats need him on the field. Their playoff hopes may depend on it.