Julian Edelman Says He’s Ready to ‘Go Full Throttle’
The Patriots’ offense plummeted without Julian Edelman in the lineup, but it would be naïve to view his expected return as a panacea for all of the team’s recent offensive woes.
Edelman looked sharp on the practice field Monday, running crisp routes and appearing to move at full speed. Though he stopped short of confirming he would be on the field for the Patriots’ Divisional Round matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs Saturday, he said he isn’t holding anything back.
“I’m going to go full throttle regardless. If it goes, it goes,” Edelman said, via ESPN. “There’s no dipping the toe in here; it’s just diving in.”
Video: WR Julian Edelman cuts and accelerates after making his way through a ball-security drill at practice. pic.twitter.com/R2QA1LYvmT
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) January 11, 2016
There’s no denying the impact Edelman’s absence has had on the Patriots. Ever since he broke his foot against the Giants Nov. 15, the Pats’ points per game average has dropped from 35 to 25. When Edelman was on the field this season, New England converted 50 percent of its third downs. Without him, that number drops to 33 percent.
If and when Edelman takes the field Saturday, there’s little doubt he’ll help the Patriots move the ball against the Chiefs’ third-ranked defense. But it’s unlikely his chemistry with Tom Brady will pick up right where it left off. After all, he hasn’t played in nearly two months.
“I think all that’s kind of wishful thinking, truthfully,” Brady said recently on the Pats not missing a beat once Edelman returns. “You know, it’s going to be a lot of hard work. It’s going to be a lot of guys putting effort in. There’s just no way to shortcut that.”
If the Patriots’ offense is going to return to its prolific early season production, more players than Edelman are going to have to step up. The first name on that list is Rob Gronkowski, who’s only caught six passes over the last two games.
Perhaps Bill Belichick has purposely been withholding Gronkowski from the game plan in an effort to protect his injured knee, but questions remain whether Gronk rushed back. Two days after bruising his knee against the Denver Broncos Nov. 29, Gronkowski released a video and said he wouldn’t return until “he’s 100 percent.” Less than two weeks later, after a disheartening loss at home to the Philadelphia Eagles, he was surprisingly back on the field.
In addition to Gronkowski, Danny Amendola has been banged up as well. He re-injured his left knee against the Tennessee Titans Dec. 20 and then missed the next game against the Jets. In the Patriots’ season finale at Miami, Amendola was only thrown to four times.
Players push themselves this time of year, but it doesn’t mean their bodies always cooperate. As an example, Gronkowski returned early from a broken forearm late in the 2012 campaign only to break it again in the Patriots’ first playoff game that season.
Edelman says he wants to go “full throttle,” but that’s not a guarantee he’ll play like it. If the Patriots are counting on him to carry them against a Chiefs defense that’s fourth in sacks and leads the AFC in interceptions, they’re probably going to be disappointed with the results.