Former New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman has spoken about one major concern he has for his former team this upcoming season.
The New England Patriots, having gone through two seasons of being without the dynasty-building duo that was Bill Belichick and Tom Brady at Gillette Stadium, will surely be hoping that this is the season that they get back to the top of the NFL landscape once again like their glory days of the 2000s and 2010s.
Having taken a major step back in 2020 Cam Newton was under their quarterback, finishing with their first losing season since the year 2000 as they went 7-9, 2021 saw a very impressive improvement with rookie quarterback Mac Jones as he took them to 10-7 and back in the playoffs before they were knocked out by their AFC East rivals in the Buffalo Bills.
And having taken those steps forward, and with Belichick still at the helm, it isn’t impossible to think that progress, especially now that Jones has had a year to adjust to the NFL, could be on the way.
However Julian Edelman, who was part of the 2010s stretch of the Patriots dynasty, isn’t so sure that progress will be on the way.
What’s he said?
Speaking on the I Am Athlete Podcast (quoted by MassLive), Edelman expressed his concern about how the defence was setting up and whether or not they would be able to play to a level that would allow Jones to flourish on the other side of the ball rather than asking him to be their saviour every week whilst he continues to progress:
“They [early Patriots dynasty teams in the 2000s when Brady was developing] weren’t tossing the ball out after the stadium. It was a defensive-built team. That’s the thing that I’m worried about with the Patriots. Is their defense gonna be there to allow Mac to have this slow progression into becoming what he becomes?”
Is he right to be concerned?
Edelman does have a point, because the Patriots defence certainly played their part last season when it came to Jones’ success that saw him named to the Pro Bowl and earn serious consideration to win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
The Patriots ranked 4th in terms of yards allowed with 5,284 and 2nd in terms of points with 303, but they have lost a number of players from that defence last year including Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower.
And whilst they have made moves to try and replace those players both through the draft, free agency and trades, it’s putting a lot of faith in the new players to play to the same level, if not better, than the ones that came before them in order to make sure Jones isn’t put under too much pressure.
Having gone through this before as head coach, Belichick does deserve some benefit on the doubt when it comes to putting a team together, but as always, the proof will come when the games are actually played.