Is Julian Edelman the Last Remaining Hope for the Patriots' Receiving Corps?

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Is Julian Edelman the Last Remaining Hope for the Patriots' Receiving Corps?
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman (11, above) lifted the Patriots past the New York Jets on Thursday night.

If the New England Patriots' passing game is going to get off the ground, wide receiver Julian Edelman will be the one one to turn on the jets and turn on the propeller.

If he's unable to do so for one reason or another, the Patriots' offensive takeoff may be delayed.

Edelman was by far the most reliable target quarterback Tom Brady had on the field. The fifth-year veteran accounted for 13 receptions on 18 targets for 78 yards in Thursday's 13-10 win over the New York Jets.

Patriots wide receivers, Thursday night vs. Jets
Player Targets Receptions Yards Y/R TD
Julian Edelman 18 13 78 6 0
Aaron Dobson 10 3 56 18.7 1
Kenbrell Thompkins 7 2 47 23.5 0
James Develin 1 1 4 4 0

Yahoo.com

Brady's other, younger receivers were getting open, but it looked like the chemistry was still a work in progress.

At times, however, the blame fell on Brady for some poorly placed passes. A pair of deep passes to Aaron Dobson, as well as a sideline throw, were well out of reach of the rookie receiver. 

Heck, even Edelman could have had a better day if his quarterback were on target with a couple of throws—one that was overthrown on a wide-open deep pass early in the first quarter, and another that was thrown wide of the receiver over the middle.

It was not a smooth night on offense for anyone, but it seemed Edelman was open every time Brady threw him the ball.

"Julian played well," said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick in the postgame press conference. "He made some tough catches and did a good job on punt returns. He played hard like he always does. He's tough kid. I thought he made a couple tough catches out there in the second half (where he) had to take the ball away from his body in the rain and all that. He competed hard."

In more ways than one, Edelman has begun to earn comparisons to former Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker. His shifty style of route-running and reliability catching passes in traffic are the basis for most of those comparisons.

"You learn a lot from a great player like Wes," Edelman said of his time with Welker, adding, "I watched him for four years, and he's one of the best."

It makes sense, since Jets head coach Rex Ryan said earlier in the week that Edelman and Danny Amendola were "Welker clones" and that the former of the two receivers had learned quite a bit from his predecessor.

Edelman's performance may be deemed Welker-esque for his performance, his final stat line, as well as the fact that he seems to be the only receiver Brady is targeting.

"I went out there like I do every game," he said. "You try to get open, you try to catch the ball. I was targeted a few more times, and I just tried to take advantage of the opportunity and contribute to the team."

Can the Patriots offense find continued success with Julian Edelman as their top receiver?

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At this rate (27 targets, 20 catches, 157 yards, two touchdowns through two games), there will be plenty more opportunities for Edelman to contribute to the offense.

Edelman may well become the focal point of the offense, and if the first two games are any indication, it is a burden he's capable of carrying.

In a best-case scenario, though, it's not a burden he'll have to carry for long before other receivers start getting more involved in the offense.

 

 

Erik Frenz is also a Patriots/AFC East writer for Boston.com. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand or via team news releases.

 

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