Mac Jones Needs to Find His Julian Edelman
Edelman’s Leadership and Playoff Experience Were Invaluable
Jakobi Meyers has exceeded expectations, and he may get better as he develops chemistry with Jones, but it’s hard to get faster. It’s even harder to replace Julian Edelman’s near Hall of Fame career on and off the field. Edelman’s leadership and playoff experience were invaluable. He ran quick, unique routes that made him extremely hard to cover. He found holes in the defense and created early separation. During Super Bowl 53 against a solid Rams defense, Tony Romo said, “it’s almost laughable to think you are going to cover him one on one.” The Patriots don’t have a player like that.
While Meyers is emerging, he also holds the modern record for most receptions in his first 36 games without a receiving touchdown. He has not been shut out entirely; he has two passing touchdowns and a 2-point conversion. Like Edelman, he was a QB in college and converted to a wide receiver. Meyers isn’t here to throw passes, though; they need him to get open quickly and score touchdowns.
Having a speedy Slot Receiver to play Edelman’s role will not only make the offense more dynamic but perhaps draw double coverage, which could free up other receivers. It would also help the offensive line keep Mac Jones upright. “The kid” needs a quick outlet to throw to. Not just an emergency check down when the big play isn’t there, but a game-breaker who can not only pick up first downs but is a threat to score. It was the key to the Patriots offense since the days of Wes Welker, who Edelman credits for inventing his position.
The New England Patriots Need a Slot Receiver
It’s not a knock on Meyers to say he’s not like Edelman or Welker; they were unique. Bill Belichick has described Meyers as more of a “hybrid” inside-outside receiver than a typical slot guy. Meyers is built differently; he’s 6’2, Edelman was 5’10, and Welker was 5’9, and they used their lower center of gravity to their advantage. This week, the Zolak and Bertrand show at 98.5 The Sports Hub, former Patriots quarterback Scott Zolak maybe said it best: “They don’t have a slot. I mean, Jakobi usually lines up in there, he will catch stuff, but he doesn’t have that quick burst within a 2-yard box, like Edelman”.
It’s not Meyers’s fault that he has never scored a touchdown; he makes a lot of plays, but the play-calling and personnel in the red zone have been odd. He also doesn’t have Tom Brady at quarterback anymore. It wasn’t just about how well Brady throws the ball where only his guy can catch it; he also could audible into the right play and beat you before the snap. That put them in the red zone more often, creating more opportunities.
Now the trade deadline has come and gone, and the Patriots didn’t make a move. Perhaps they did not see the need to replace Edelman or believe that player is already in-house. In case of injury, they could have used another body in the slot or given a guy a rest. Now, that player will have to come from within the system or off the street. Kendrick Bourne has also played some in the slot. On the practice squad, they have Kristian Wilkerson and rookie Tre Nixon in development. There are other positions of need, like cornerback, running back depth, and offensive line, but the Patriots need to score more points. To do that, Mac Jones needs a Julian Edelman in this pass-friendly league.
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