Patriots

Patriots' Mohamed Sanu gives huge praise to Julian Edelman's toughness

Patriots' Mohamed Sanu gives huge praise to Julian Edelman's toughness

Julian Edelman is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL, and you'd have a difficult time finding many offensive players who are tougher mentally and physically than the 33-year-old veteran.

Edelman arguably is the most valuable player of the New England Patriots entering Week 15. The Patriots offense has struggled mightily of late. In fact, New England is the third-lowest scoring team in the league since Week 9. The passing attack has been hampered by new additions, who lack both experience with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and a firm grasp of the offense, as well as injuries. The wide receiver corps has two rookies, N'Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers, playing prominent roles right now. Two of the veteran wideouts, Mohamed Sanu and Phillip Dorsett, have both battled injuries in recent weeks.

Edelman has been one of the few constants for the Patriots offense, both in terms of production and availability. It hasn't been easy for Edelman to be on the field every week in 2019. He has been on the injury report most of the year, but he's battled through all of these ailments to play in every single game.

“Man, you all don’t understand how tough Jules is,” Sanu told reporters Wednesday. “That dude’s tough. He’s a tough son of a gun, and he goes out there every day. Whether there’s something aching, something biting or whatever the case might be, he gives it all he’s got. Even when they tell him not to, he’s still out there, and that’s what I love about him. I love to compete with him, man."

Sanu added: "You can see how tough he is in his play. They don’t call him ‘squirrel’ for nothing. He’s a bad man.”

Edelman has caught 90 passes for 1,010 yards and six touchdowns this season. He's on pace to set career highs in receptions and yards, and it's possible he breaks his career-high in receiving touchdowns (seven) as well.

His status for Sunday's matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals is uncertain. He missed Wednesday's practice and was listed on the injury report with knee/shoulder issues. The Patriots might be wise to give Edelman a day off against the Bengals given the importance of having him as healthy as possible for the playoffs. The Bengals have a league-worst 1-12 record, and even though the Patriots have struggled to score points over the last five weeks, they shouldn't need Edelman to leave Cincinnati with a win.

Roger Goodell gives first public comment on Pats-Bengals investigation>>>

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Patriots' Stephon Gilmore reflects on Defensive Player of the Year candidacy

Patriots' Stephon Gilmore reflects on Defensive Player of the Year candidacy

Stephon Gilmore has a strong chance to accomplish something only five cornerbacks have done before in NFL history: win a Defensive Player of the Year award.

The New England Patriots' lockdown CB is considered a favorite to become the first player at his position to take home the award since Charles Woodson did so in 2009. Gilmore would become the first Patriots player ever to win the award.

In Orlando, Fla. for the Pro Bowl, Gilmore took some time to reflect on his candidacy.

“It’s pretty cool. That’s a big award,” Gilmore told Jeff Howe of The Athletic. “The award speaks for itself, a lot of hard work, a lot of good teammates that put me in that position, a lot of preparation from myself. I couldn’t have done it without my teammates to even be in this position. I feel like I had a good year. Hopefully, I’ll win it.”

Gilmore tied for the NFL lead in interceptions with six and also topped the league in pass breakups (20). The 29-year-old was named Defensive Player of the Year by his NFL peers and also by the Pro Football Writers of America.

“Toward the end [of the season], people started saying it,” Gilmore said. “I didn’t really think about it because it’d be a big award to win. I think it’d be the first Patriot to win Defensive Player of the Year. I mean, that’s insane. Hopefully, I’ll win it.”

NFL Honors will be announced Feb. 1 on FOX starting at 8 p.m.

Curran: Carr the first QB to mark his territory

Picturing how Tom Brady would fit in another NFL offense

Picturing how Tom Brady would fit in another NFL offense

If Tom Brady leaves the New England Patriots, I think his new team's head coach, general manager and offensive coordinator would all understand they would have to make concessions.

They want him to feel comfortable. They want him to feel like he has ownership in the offensive scheme.

There would be some give-and-take. They know they'll only have so many more years with Brady, so why not try to maximize that potential? You don't do that by starting from scratch or making him learn a brand new system.

He’s had a lot of success in that system in New England, and there are a lot of positives for him being able to grow that offense the way he wants to see it.

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

The closest example for Brady joining another team would be when Peyton Manning went to Denver. 

The Broncos allowed Peyton to put his touch on the offense and run a little bit more of what he was comfortable with. I believe any team bringing Brady in would also make those same concessions and say, “We want you to feel comfortable. We also want you to run an offense that you feel like you can have some success in.”

The offseason would be pivotal.

Brady would have to get in the building as soon as possible and have those conversations to understand what the offensive philosophy of that coordinator is, what kind of weapons they have and how to utilize those weapons.

For example: How do they run their checks on offense? Do they get out of certain plays or looks? Brady has been calling out protection schemes for the last 20 years; you always see him point to a linebacker and call out a certain protection. But some teams have the offensive line do that.

There’s a multitude of schematic factors that would go into Brady getting comfortable with a new team.

Click here to listen and subscribe to Tom Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast: 

But the biggest factor is terminology.

I had 12 offensive coordinators in 14 years, and everybody is a little different. When you are accustomed to the same word for a route concept for so many years, and then all of a sudden it’s a different word but the same route concept, it takes a second to process that in your brain.

When I had to learn a new offensive system, I would make flash cards, write down plays and watch film like I was cramming for a test. And that was before I even got onto the field.

Brady has never been a part of a different system. There has been nothing brand new that needs to be learned in the offseason; it's just building on what you did the year before.

That's going to be a factor for any team that brings Brady in: How much is their offensive terminology related to New England's? And how much leeway do they have to change what's already in place?

Because if you completely change what you did from the year before, it sets everybody back. The receivers, the offensive line, the running backs -- it’d be a learning curve for everybody.

If Brady leaves New England, I believe his best bet to be successful would be joining a team with similar offensive terminology.

He could be willing to go in there and start all over. He's a smart guy, so he could put it all on himself and say, “We’ll make some subtle adjustments, but I’ll learn your offensive scheme."

But that's asking a lot from a guy who’s been in the same system for 20 years.

Editor's note: Matt Cassel had a 14-year NFL career that included four seasons with the New England Patriots (2005-2008). He's joining the NBC Sports Boston team for this season. You can find him on game days as part of our Pregame Live and Postgame Live coverage, as well as every week on Tom E. Curran’s Patriots Talk podcast and NBCSportsBoston.com.