BOSTON (CBS) — With one more week of preseason football, the Patriots are adjusting to life without Tom Brady’s most trusted target in Julian Edelman. And the biggest adjustment will come on the biggest stages.
The MMQB’s Albert Breer joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich on Tuesday to share his thoughts on Edelman’s season-ending injury and how it affects the Patriots. Breer believes the Edelman injury will affect the Patriots later in the season, citing Brady’s trust and rapport with Edelman in big playoff moments.
“I don’t think it will have much effect on Brady’s numbers in 2017 or the Patriots win-loss record,” Breer said. “But could their come a point in the playoffs where you’re in one those spots, where Brady would normally go to Edelman, and he’s not there and it could affect him?”
“Look at the two Super Bowl catches,” Breer said. “The [Super Bowl XLIX] catch, the circus catch against Atlanta. They were on the biggest stage. The Patriots were down. They were in tight spots, and Brady is throwing into traffic because the trusts that guy. Who else does he throw into traffic too like that? Just Gronk. When we get to the playoffs and they run into somebody who isn’t just going to roll over for them, that’s when you’ll see it.”
Breer mentions the Texans, Steelers and Raiders as teams that could possibly give the Patriots postseason trouble. But as far as the regular season is concerned, he doesn’t see the Edelman injury affecting the Pats’ place as the top team in the AFC.
“I don’t think it’s going to change their record,” Breer said. “You have inside weapons and outside weapons. Cooks and Hogan, those are outside weapons. You have to now project how they’re going to make up for it inside.”
Breer think the Patriots might have to tinker with their offensive scheme, rather than just plug new guys in on the inside.
“The temptation is just ‘Put more on Amendola and Gronk,'” Breer said. “The problem is, those two guys have injury histories. Do you really want to put more weight on their shoulders? I think the answer is no. So you have to remake who you are offensively a little bit. But I don’t think that’ll cost them games though.”
Breer thinks the Patriots may even put Rex Burkhead in the slot to minimize Edelman’s loss.
“The Bengals actually played with the idea of moving [Burkhead] to slot receiver,” Breer said. “I think that’s why appealed to the Patriots. He’s another one of those guys, when he breaks the huddle, you don’t know where he’s going. There’s real value in that.”
Another thing to monitor with Edelman’s situation, is how the player will fit into the Pariots’ plans beyond 2017.
“There aren’t many players that play deep into their thirties here,” Breer said. “And if they do, they’re always on team-friendly deals. This is a team-friendly deal that Edelman is on. I certainly think that there’s a possibility that this is the beginning of the end for him.”
Edelman posted an uplifting message to Patriots fans this morning on all of his social media accounts. The 31-year-old signed a two-year contract extension with the Patriots through 2019 in June that could give him a maximum of $19.5 million over the next three years.
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