Tom Brady is right. The Patriots aren’t going to flat-out “replace” Julian Edelman this season, unless Edelman himself makes a quicker-than-expected recovery from a severe left foot injury.
Still, the Bill Belichick-era Pats are arguably the best team in the history of North American professional sports at adapting and morphing on the fly. Their offense post-Edelman injury against the Giants looked nothing like the five-wide stuff they were running earlier in the game and they ultimately won the game despite the loss of No. 11.
Here are some routes of adaptation the Pats could use going forward:
Keshawn Martin will have the unfortunate duty of “replacing” Edelman on the sheet of paper that reads “depth chart” and he’ll likely get to say his name and college of origin on “Sunday Night Football” against the Broncos in 12 days. This does not mean that he’ll become anything close to a focal point in the Pats’ offense, but — at the same time — it’ll be more likely to see the fourth-year man out of Michigan State in the mix than a Matthew Slater-type. Martin has been targeted seven times by Brady this season but has dealt with his own injury issues (hamstring), limiting his production. The 25-year-old played his first three NFL seasons with Houston, catching 38 balls and pulling in three touchdowns.
Rely on the tight end
Scott Chandler should be seeing plenty of targets in the next few weeks. Brady doesn’t seem totally comfortable with him yet, but one would guess Brady would rather look Chandler’s way than, say, Aaron Dobson’s way. Chandler’s season high for targets came in Week 2 against Buffalo as Brady looked his way five times. Chandler scored a touchdown in the Giants game on Sunday, but it was his only reception (he was targeted three times in East Rutherford). Obviously, Rob Gronkowski is option No. 1 at this position but defenders are going to blanket Gronk more than ever while Edelman is out.
Man on the street
“Let’s go get Wes Welker!” was the cry from many a Patriots fan when Edelman went down Sunday … that is until they remembered that St. Louis had signed him the week prior. It’s unlikely that the Rams would waive Welker at some point this season as he inked a one-year deal with up to $700,000 in incentives (playing time, amount of catches). The former Pats star caught three passes for 32 yards in his Rams debut Sunday and with St. Louis still very much in the mix for a playoff spot, it’ll likely hold onto him. Hakeem Nicks, Reggie Wayne and Terrelle Pryor are big names that are out there, but are unlikely to sign with the Patriots due to various circumstances.