Julian Edelman is certainly no stranger to New England Patriots fans. But he is not widely recognized when discussing top receivers within the league. The lack of recognition was once again apparent when it was announced Edelman was left off the NFL Top 100 players list this year. Despite having one of the best seasons of his career in 2019, it was revealed he missed the list by one spot. Coming in at number 101 reminded many fans just how truly underrated and underappreciated he really is.
Since becoming a starter, Edelman developed into Tom Brady’s favorite and most reliable target. If there was ever a moment where the offense needed to step up, Tom had his guy. Whether it was a great return on a punt, scrambling for some extra yards on a pass or yelling down the bench to get the team back in the zone, Edelman could (and would) do it all. The best example of his reliability on display would have to be his performance in Super Bowl 51. Most do not need to be reminded the Pats were desperately in need of a miracle comeback. With just over two minutes left in the game and still down 8 points, Edelman made an incredible catch while surrounded by three Falcons defenders. With that catch, momentum continued to be on New England’s side. And because of his catch, the team was able to get back into the game and eventually win another Lombardi.
In sports, statistics are not the end all, be all way of deciding a player’s value to their team. Julian Edelman is not the flashiest of all players and does not have the stats of someone like Antonio Brown. But, his value to the Patriots has been instrumental to their success. The Patriots are known for the, “do your job” mantra and putting the team before individuals. Sacrificing personal statistical desires is key and Edelman has embodied this mentality. Players around the league, and fans, rely heavily on position stats of single players and forget to look at impact to the team in its entirety. Julian is known for making plays when called upon and supporting his teammates when it is their time. This is not always easy to come by in professional sports. However, Edelman is and always will be the ultimate teammate.
When discussing a player like Edelman, you cannot fail to mention his resiliency. Around the NFL, there are critics who may question a player’s toughness when under pressure or dealing with/returning from injury. Second guessing Julian Edelman’s toughness is just a bit foolish. Last season alone, he played through multiple injuries that would later require surgery. Playing in all 16 games, he ended the year with 1,117 yards, 6 touchdowns and a 65.4% catch rate. Regardless of his injuries, Edelman outperformed all receivers on the team for the year, adding another great season to his resume.
Versatility has almost become a requirement on the Patriots over the years and Julian has used that to his advantage. Some may not remember Edelman was a quarterback in college and drafted as one as well. He has shown throughout the years that he can still sling the football far down the field when needed. Because of that, the team has been able to design trick plays to use in some important games. Edelman has shown not only can he help score touchdowns; he can throw them too. Patriots fans will never forget the iconic Edelman to Amendola 51-yard-touchdown pass against the Ravens in the 2014 playoffs, helping to bring the Pats back into the game. It was a defining moment that season which ultimately ended with yet another Super Bowl victory, helped by a great performance from Edelman once again.
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Playing in the post-season is nothing new for the Patriots. Since Julian Edelman was drafted in 2009, the team has made the playoffs every single year. In the 19 playoff games he has played in, Edelman has racked up 1,442 yards with a 65.6% catch rate and 5 touchdowns. And, in a handful of those games, he had over 100 yards receiving for the day. One of his best performances in the post-season would be the most recent Super Bowl the team appeared in. Although Super Bowl 53 was a low scoring game, Edelman put on quite the performance. Having 10 receptions for 141 yards, this helped him secure the Super Bowl MVP Award and cementing his legacy on the Patriots.
The rest of the NFL and its fans should make themselves more aware of Julian Edelman and appreciate the phenomenal teammate in which he is. Every successful NFL player is not always loaded on stats because in the game of football, that is not what matters most. Having reliability, leadership and versatility can benefit your team vastly and Edelman has proven that over the years. He exudes toughness, both physically and mentally, and his never quit attitude is infectious in the locker room. Regardless of whether he will ever receive the praise and recognition many feel he deserves; Julian Edelman has certainly become a legend in Patriots Nation, and deservedly so at that.
Photo credit to Ollie Longo (@LongoOllie on Twitter), Jared Wickerham/Getty Images and Kevin Jairaj of USA Today Sports
-Sara Marshall is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage, and covers the New England Patriots. Follow her on Twitter @sarmarxo