Julian Edelman’s modest production nothing to worry about

October 21, 2016 GMT

FOXBORO — Julian Edelman’s diminished production over the last two weeks is a first-world NFL problem. It is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a reason to do a cannonball onto the panic button.

Edelman has nine catches for 65 yards in two games with Tom Brady. Those aren’t typical Edelman numbers, particularly the 7.2 yards per reception, but it’d be a bit over the top to use two games as a statistical barometer for Edelman’s individual importance.

“We’re 5-1,” Edelman said. “That’s all that really matters.”

Edelman has been limited in practice with a foot injury since Week 5, but didn’t appear to have been hampered in the last two games.

He said yesterday he feels “good physically.”

His catch numbers could be much simpler than that. For starters, tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett have combined for 23 catches, 386 yards and four touchdowns in the two games with Brady, so the offense has run through that tandem.


From there, wide receiver Chris Hogan had four catches for a career-high 114 yards against the Browns, and running back James White caught eight passes (second most in his career) for 47 yards and a career-best two touchdowns Sunday against the Bengals.

So in two games with Brady, the offense has been driven by the tight ends and third options, who have had the best receiving games of their careers.

“That’s part of this offense,” Edelman said. “We’ve got a lot of good weapons. There are going to be some days when it’s yours, and some days it’s for other people. That’s how it goes here.”

Edelman has also had similar stretches in past seasons since becoming the Patriots’ No. 1 receiver in 2013. After a blistering four-game start in ’13, Edelman endured his worst drought with a six-game stretch in which he averaged three catches for 30.2 yards without a touchdown. However, he was dominant for the remainder of the regular season and playoffs.

He also had a pair of similar two-game stretches in 2014 — nine catches for 58 yards in Weeks 4-5 and five catches for 58 yards in Weeks 7-8 — but was again a critical piece to the offense the rest of the way, including a masterful playoff record. So there are three examples why Edelman’s current spurt is not unique or insurmountable.

Now, he hasn’t been perfect this season. He had three drops against the Dolphins and two against the Browns. He also got his hands on one pass against the Texans in the end zone and another against the Browns that would have been terrific catches if he could have corralled them, but they’d be tough to classify as drops.

But there have also been some impressively tough catches, including a key 9-yarder while absorbing a hit from Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson on the sideline. Edelman also made some contested grabs against the Dolphins, and a diving 12-yard catch on third-and-7 against the Browns.


The 30-year-old has again been clutch on third down. He is tied with Danny Amendola for the team lead with seven third-down catches, and has a team-best six conversions, including two from Brady, who will continue to look at Edelman during crunch-time situations.

It’s natural to be uneasy about Edelman’s long-term health due to the way he hurls himself around the field, particularly on the heels of Wes Welker’s rapid decline, but that’s still more of a doomsday scenario until Edelman shows tangible signs of slowing down. A similar fear can be shared over Edelman’s twice repaired foot, but again, his quickness appears to still be an asset.

This is why, as Gronk and Bennett are rolling and Edelman has been the fourth most productive player for two weeks, the slimmed-down stat sheet shouldn’t be perceived as a reason to sound the siren.

“We’ve got a really good offense right now,” Edelman said. “We’ve got to continue to improve. We’ve got a good deal here.”