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Random Observations on Edelman's Injury and Preseason Game 3

Edelman's injury

It was my intention to write about the whole game, but obviously as Feits pointed out, the Julian Edelman injury is the whole story. As of mid-Saturday we still don’t know if he’s done for the season. And since when it comes to  injuries the Pats organization is pretty much like a sullen 14-year-old at a family party, they’re only going to say something when they have to say something, we might not know until he actually goes under the knife or the roster has to be finalized in a week and a half. But if that wasn’t a torn ACL, then it was the Frank Caliendo-level imitation of a torn ACL.

Allow me to spit this molten lava take: This sucks. But if it’s the end of the season for Julian Edelman then it’s the end of the season for Julian Edelman only. The best thing about this Patriots team – the very best thing among many – is that they don’t do devastating injuries. They move on. Like an Orc army that loses a bunch of warriors to arrows, they leave the bodies where they fell and keep advancing. Even the one time they lost the one guy who’s name will not be mentioned in connection to injuries in this blog, they put in the backup and won 11 games. Gronk is considered the second most indispensable guy on the roster and they won a Super Bowl with Martellus Bennett and Matt Lengel while Gronk was smashing beers and coeds. Back in the day they won a Super Bowl with Ty Law out for the year. We’ve come a long way since that time in 1989 when in the final preseason game they lost Andre Tippett, Ronnie Lippett and Garin Veris for the year. That was a Hall of Fame linebacker, a Pro Bowl DB and a solid defensive tackle. Three off their 11 starters on defense. And the season was over before it began. But there is no such thing as a fatal blow in Bill Belichick’s philosophy. And his players believe that.

Also on the bright side, if ever there was a year when it’s OK to lose your primary wide receiver target (note: there is not) this would be it. As of right now it’s probably still the deepest position on the team, even without Minitron. Brandin Cooks adds an element they haven’t had since Randy Moss. Malcolm Mitchell was emerging bigly last year. Chris Hogan looks like he’s taken the coveted Year 2 Bounce, even after a very good 2016. Austin Carr has looked like a guy you’d hope you could sneak onto the practice squad without losing him to waivers, but is now your depth guy. And as much as Edelman is Brady’s first read, both in matchups vs. man and hot routes when defenses send extra pressure, Danny Amendola has played that role plenty. Belichick fixed him up with a Miss Universe from Rhode Island so he’d keep taking paycuts to stay here for just this contingency.

There’s supposed to be like a 5 percent chance Edelman doesn’t miss the whole season. Stranger things have happened. I’ll never forget watching Tedy Bruschi get his knee bent sideways like a GI Joe in the hands of an ADHD toddler, get up, bounce a couple of times and never miss a snap. Edelman has been working with TB12 Fitness and to use the new hotness in sports medicine, maybe he’s pliable enough to have escaped doom. And if he saves some of the season you know he’ll come back to Brady like a lost dog returning to his owner. But let’s not delude ourselves. Every player is a non-contact injury away from missing a year and it looks like the bad luck hit him. God promises none of us a tomorrow.

Other, less important quick hits from last nights Fake Football game:

–Hogan really was immense. The thing that is really emerging with him is his combination of size, speed and route running. His first touchdown was him iso’d in a 2-tight end set. Brady motioned him in to reveal man coverage by Nevin Lawson. Hogan broke off his route and took it right up the seam between the linebacker on Dion Lewis and Jarred Davis. Just a perfect read by him, showing how much he’s mastering the McOffense.

–His second TD was as much proving how physical he can be as understanding the scheme. He was trying to get to the flat but Lawson was doing a great job preventing it. So Hogan fought him off, got inside and ran a seam. The Pats were running 2 verticals on the other side, which drew the safety and allowed him to win the footrace. It might be time to stop thinking about Hogan as a 3rd/4th option and start thinking of him as a legit Fantasy pick.

–Kony Ealy is dunzo. The rumors have been out there that the Pats have shopped him around. But even if he doesn’t get traded he won’t make this roster. He’s had all the time in the world to prove himself and hasn’t shown up on film. It says everything that he was in with 5 minutes to go and getting stood up by a bottom-of-the-depth chart tackle who’ll be handing out bowling shoes in two weeks. (No disrespect intended to our noble bowling alley workers, who make America great.) At Carolina they only asked Ealy to get after the quarterback and the ball carrier. Here, he’s been asked to do Patriots things. Set the edge. Move inside and out. Drop into the flat. He’s done none of those things. He only cost them eight spots in the draft, so it’s no loss in terms of what they gave up to get him. But still, a crushing disappointment from a guy who should be entering his prime, but is instead making them rolling paper thin at the Edge position.

–By comparison, other guys along that D-line continue to make the most of their reps. At one point in the 1st, Detroit tried an outside zone run. But Trey Flowers stayed outside his man, played spill all the way to the sideline, while Adam Butler found a seam and made the pursuit tackle for a loss. Butler also ran a nice stunt with Harvey Langi to force the throw Malcolm Butler deflected to Eric Rowe for the interception. And Alan Branch’s one-armed sack of Matthew Stafford was set up by Langi flushing him out of the pocket. Flowers is their only established DE. Langi has probably won the spot on the other side. And I’d be borderline shocked if Butler hasn’t earned a significant role on the inside.

–I’m still banking on Dont’a Hightower returning to play a lot up on the line of scrimmage. Especially with seeing the way David Harris already seems to have a complete grasp of the defense in the middle. The Jets continue to be the gift that keeps giving.

–It’s impossible not to feel good about the running back corps now that we’ve seen Mike Gillislee. Like Rex Burkhead the game before, he showed he’s got a skill set to complement the rest of the backs. In his case, he was hitting the hole decisively and flashed some ability to break tackles. It was great to see the rare Daily Double where he hit two different holes from the same blocking scheme on consecutive plays and get in the end zone each time. Behind an over loaded line behind Gronk and Dwayne Allen with James Develin in front of him, he took the first one outside for the TD and the second one cut inside of Gronk and followed Develin’s block on the middle linebacker for the conversion.

–Which leads me to Allen’s progress. He’s looking more comfortable in the offense than he did early in camp. And if he can be the viable second option in the base two tight attack they’ve been trying to establish since Lee Harvey Hernandez, it will create a lot of mismatches and mitigate the loss of Edelman.

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–I’m actually starting to root for opponents to throw toward Stephon Gilmore. But I think it’s going to be rare. His coverage right now is a Path of Totality that plunges wideouts into darkness.

–Malcolm Butler is a different story. His compete is still off the charts, but he seems to be losing his man while trying to track the ball. Or something. I just know he’s got to clean that up because no one will be looking to Gilmore’s side until he does.

–Justin Coleman had another pass broken up. And while I’ve got confidence in him I never thought possible two years ago, that 3rd corner spot has to belong to Rowe.

–It would have been fun to see Jimmy Garoppolo play with the starters for a series, but we have to grade him on the curve of being behind Conor McDermott, Jamil Douglas, Cole Groston and Glenn Gronkowski. He did a lot of his throwing on the run (again) and showed nice touch while leaving the pocket to DJ Foster over a hi-lo bracket. Which Foster dropped. But it’s hard to evaluate anything when every play scrub-on-scrub crime.

–All I know is Jimmy G gets credit for the all-important 4th quarter fauxball comeback win. Sparing us the humiliation of Lions fans printing up “NE 28 – DET 0/NE 24 – DET 28″ shirts.

 @jerrythornton1