BOSTON (CBS) — There may not be a non-family member on this planet that Julian Edelman loves more than Tom Brady. But his love for the Patriots runs stronger.
While Edelman talked a lot about his expectations of feeling conflicted while watching his former quarterback play against his former team, the retired receiver said on “Inside The NFL” on Paramount+ that he had absolutely no issues rooting for the Patriots to beat the Buccaneers on Sunday night.READ MORE: Nearly 30 Million People Tuned In To See Thrilling End Of Patriots-Cowboys On CBS
“You know what? I wasn’t,” Edelman said when asked if he felt conflicted while watching. “I love Tom, I love Gronk … but I’m not rooting for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They didn’t pay me. I played for the New England Patriots. That’s my squad. Foxboro Forever! Get the T-shirt!”
Edelman of course has harnessed the phrase “Foxboro Forever,” so he’s certainly doing his best to live it the best he can.
Later in the show, Edelman talked about his playing relationship with Brady and made sure to mention the fondness he still feels for his former teammate.
“We don’t like each other. We love each other,” Edelman said. “That’s love.”
As for the game, Edelman said that in his estimation, Brady was a little too hyped up early on, resulting in some overthrows and short drives.
“I’ve seen it. I’ve seen it firsthand. I mean, sometimes my guy — he loves this game. He’s a competitor, like we’ve been talking about the last two weeks. He wants to go out and beat Bill Belichick!”
While Brady wasn’t overwhelming in this game, Edelman wanted to make sure that nobody wrongly concluded that Brady wasn’t good in the game.
“Brady made the plays when his team needed,” Edelman said. “He was a little too hyped early on, a couple of his playmakers had some drops. I mean, let’s not go out and say Brady didn’t play well; Brady still played well. He didn’t throw any picks, he took care of the football, and that’s what you have to do to try to beat the New England Patriots.”
Edelman added: “He knows that the Patriots are preaching ‘take care of the football, whoever doesn’t turn the ball over is gonna win the game.’ I guarantee the whole week he was talking to everyone, ‘Hold on to the ball, if you take care of the football, we’re gonna win this game.’ Because, I mean, they’re a little reckless over there with the Patriots. They’re young.”READ MORE: NFL Films Microphones Catch CeeDee Lamb, Cowboys Celebrating Win Over Patriots
The Patriots did lose a fumble from J.J. Taylor, and Mac Jones threw one interception after throwing into traffic while facing heavy pressure. It could’ve been worse, too, as New England also benefited from an interesting reversal from the NFL’s replay office that turned a Jakobi Meyers fumble into an incomplete pass.
On Brady, Edelman spotlighted one veteran play that he’s seen Brady make a million times before. It came in the fourth quarter, with the Bucs trailing by a point. Brady motioned running back Leonard Fournette out of the backfield to split out wide right. While Fournette motioned right, Brady watched as linebacker Kyle Van Noy followed him. Brady knew exactly what to do next.
“Tom Brady, the veteran. The absolute veteran. There’s games within games with this guy,” Edelman said. “He’s sitting there, he’s got a formation indicator, he says, ‘Hey, Leonard Fournette, why don’t you go out wide? I want to get into an empty formation.’ He gets him out there, he sees Kyle Van Noy go out with Leonard Fournette. He instantly knows, ‘I have the matchup I want. Tom Brady over the years saw Kyle Van Noy in 1-on-1’s against our running backs, he knows he’s gonna try to play him and corner him to the slant route. If [Fournette] can get past his legs and get him vertical, he knows [Van Noy] is gonna be uncomfortable.”
Fournette briefly feigned a slant route to play into Van Noy’s tendency before bursting up the right sideline. Van Noy turned his back to the quarterback and did his best to keep up with Fournette, but ultimately hit Fournette too early, drawing a 31-yard pass interference penalty.
“A linebacker’s not a corner. They’re uncomfortable in that situation,” Edelman said. “Kyle’s made big plays on this play before, but not this time. Tom knows, as an experienced veteran, the game within the game. I’m gonna expose that. It’s the two-minute drill, they needed a chunk play to get it going, which is a 20-yard play. He gets it, they go on and get their field goal right there, and that’s when they took the lead and won the game.”
While Edelman was highly complimentary of his former QB, he also came away very impressed with Belichick’s game plan against Brady.
“Tom was trying to [not] get confused by Bill and the Patriots’ defense all night long,” Edelman said. “They were P-dropping him [rushing just three players], they were putting up matchups with J.C. Jackson with [Mike] Evans, they were putting [Jonathan] Jones on [Antonio Brown].”
Edelman also found himself coming away very impressed with the work of Mac Jones for New England, as the rookie wasn’t shaken by the spotlight.
“There was one thing that I did like to see that wasn’t with Belichick or Brady. I thought the poise of the kid, Mac Jones, was very — what was he? He was 31-for-40, he had 19 consecutive passes [completed], hasn’t been done in 30 years. I think Tom Brady’s rookie year, 30 years ago,” Edelman joked. “Nineteen in a row, two touchdowns, had a pick. He just, he doesn’t seem to play hero ball. He’s not a guy that’s gonna go out and try to win you the game. He’s gonna take what the defense gives you, and I think that paired with Josh McDaniels in New England — I know they’re not where they want to be, and I know they didn’t win the game, but this was a huge confidence-builder for the New England Patriots, seeing how Mac Jones played. And the lights weren’t too bright for him.”
Edelman spotlighted a 16-yard completion to Kendrick Bourne on a second-and-20 during the Patriots’ touchdown drive in the second quarter to point out how well Jones handled a very difficult scenario.
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Probably the best downfield throw of the night for Mac Jones. Watch his eyes. Looking off/moving the zone coverage while side-stepping the rush. Knew he was coming back to Bourne on the deep the entire time. #Patriots pic.twitter.com/ILrVXB9uCg
— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) October 4, 2021
“What made me so impressed with Mac Jones was his ability to stay poised in the pocket. The offensive line was struggling all day — there were guys running free all day long. And a lot of rookie quarterbacks, what do they do? They want to take off and try to run. But on this play, it’s second-and-19, which is the drive-killer. They had a holding call, you’re on your own 17, Mac Jones, we need to get it to third-and-manageable. So what do they do? They go back, they snap the ball, they have an in-cut here by Bourne at about 16-18 yards, there’s a free guy he side-steps. But with him side-stepping, he’s keeping his eyes downfield, and he delivers a catchable ball to get ’em in third-and-3. They go on the very next play and they execute a ram route to Jakobi Meyers, they convert, they had to overcome another holding call, which was huge, another second-and-20, but they overcame it. And that’s the poise of a young quarterback that you’re not used to seeing.”