Throughout the course of the 2011-12 NFL season, we have seen some pretty interesting occurrences.
In addition, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick pulled a strategic football move that brought back memories of his former wide receiver, Troy Brown. For those that don't remember Brown, he was one of the most well-known utility players.
From 1993-2007 with the Patriots, Brown played in four Super Bowls, winning three of them and contributing in every phase of the game. When Belichick became head coach in 2000, Brown saw more time at receiver than special teams, but still continued his act as a double-duty returner.
There, Brown accumulated over 2,600 career punt return yards, 1,800 kickoff return yards and scored three times. His legend however, went to another level in 2004 as Belichick used Brown quite often on defense.
That season, Brown recorded 17 tackles and recorded three interceptions. Not bad for a player who primarily played as a receiver, right?
Well, Belichick is at it again, this time with Julian Edelman.
Serving mostly as a return man, Edelman compiled 584 total return yards on 78 attempts and scored one touchdown. And that service has continued through the postseason as well.
Like Brown, however, when appearing on defense Edelman this season recorded 18 tackles in just 13 games. That being said, in an article by Mark Maske of the Washington Post, we can expect to see Edelman in every facet of the game:
In an era of pro football specialization, when long snappers and kickoff specialists can claim full-time spots on NFL rosters, Julian Edelman is likely to play on offense, defense and special teams for the New England Patriots before Sunday’s Super Bowl is over.
Considering that the New York Giants have an explosive offense with an excellent receiving corps, this is a surprise. Then again, with a vulnerable secondary and Edelman's defensive production this season, Belichick is making a strategically feasible decision.
After all, "The Patriot Way" has worked since the 2001 season, and there's virtually no evidence suggesting that having Edelman contribute defensively is a bad move. Belichick got it to work once with Troy Brown and is giving it another go with the former Kent State quarterback.
All this being said, and with much anticipation of seeing Edelman play defense, it would actually be more surprising if he takes a higher number of snaps on offense.
Edelman's quickness, acceleration and shear athleticism is what allows Belichick to make such a decision. And from an all-encompassed perspective, 'The Patriot Way" is not only about team first but developing each player into reaching their full potential.
With so many weapons for Tom Brady on offense, Edelman's skill set cannot be restricted. So, why not give him a chance on defense?
It's not like the move was a major risk, since New England was awful at defending the pass anyway. Plus, provided that the offense continues to roll with the current personnel, Edelman may transition into a primary defensive back from a receiver.
In short, Belichick is once again proving how to get the best from your players without having to sacrifice time and effort elsewhere. The athletes are in the locker room, so give them a chance to improve the team's shortcomings.
John Rozum on Twitter.