New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman is beloved by fans throughout the northeast, but outside of the region, there is plenty of debate over whether the 33-year-old veteran is among the very best players at his position.
Edelman doesn't put up extraordinary fantasy football numbers -- he's played in the NFL since 2009 and has just two 1,000-yard seasons and his career high for touchdowns in a single campaign is seven. However, you won't find any wideout who plays at a higher level on a consistent basis in the playoffs than Edelman. Look no further than Edelman's clutch performances in the 2018 AFC Championship Game and Super Bowl LIII from last season. Edelman won Super Bowl LIII MVP, becoming one of only four wide receivers to win the award since 1990.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, during his weekly appearance on WEEI's "The Greg Hill Show", came to the defense of his most trusted target.
“Well, for me, he’s a spectacular player,” Brady said. "He’ll be in the Patriots Hall of Fame, and he could be a Pro Football Hall of Famer, too, at some point. What he’s done and what he’s accomplished in his career is nothing short of spectacular. He’s a great teammate. He does all the dirty work. Not just his only spectacular performances — his ability to run routes, catch the ball, run after catch — but blocking, blocking for other guys. I think his day-to-day mentality really sets the tone for everybody.
“We put Julian in a situation to do all the toughest jobs, basically, and that’s what he relishes. And those things can’t go unnoticed, because when he’s not in there, you can see the difference it has on our offense. He does a lot of things that a lot of other players in the NFL can’t do. He’s just a spectacular player. That’s definitely a kind of a bogus vote, in my view, because he is a spectacular player — one of the greats in the NFL, no doubt.”
Edelman missed most of training camp and the preseason recovering from a broken thumb, but that hasn't prevented him from once again serving as an integral part of the team's offense this season. In fact, Edelman has stepped up huge for the Patriots over the last two weeks, posting back-to-back 100-yard games amid injuries to others wideouts on New England's roster.
The Patriots do a great job spreading the ball around on offense, therefore making it difficult for opposing defenses to focus their game plan on just one or two players. For this reason, and others, Edelman isn't likely to put up gaudy stats every week in the regular season. But when the postseason rolls around, no wide receiver is more reliable in clutch moments than No. 11.
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