New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels talked about why wide receiver Julian Edelman has received an increased role in the Pats offense, and he said that Edelman has earned the right to play. However, he was vague on why Wes Welker has received a decreased role in the offense.
McDaniels said, “Julian is certainly one of those guys. He made quite a few plays the other day in the game and really helped us, and came up big, in a couple of those two-minute situations there. He’s a guy that gives you everything he’s got on every play. He’s got speed and has caught the ball well for us so far this year. He’s a returner and gives you an element of run-after-catch that I’d say is something he does fairly well. Not to say that we don’t have other players that do it very well too, but Jules, I think, has earned the right to get out there and play.”
That is extremely interesting indeed, and one of the main thoughts surrounding the increased usage of Edelman is that he has value as a run blocker in the slot. That was evident in how the Patriots used him during running plays, and Edelman’s source of value over Welker is his ability to block.
The praise on Edelman is interesting, and he did play well against the Arizona Cardinals and finished with five catches for 50 yards. With Aaron Hernandez out, the discussion pertaining to Welker’s decreased role will be put on hold for the time being.
Basically, everything in this Edelman-Welker discussion is open to interpretation depending on your beliefs of what the Pat should do with Welk and your views of the organization’s policies as a whole. The initial demotion of Welker is unlikely a punishment, because contending teams simply don’t punish players over contract disputes, especially when that said player is the franchise leader in receptions. It just doesn’t work that way. The usage of Edelman is likely due to the Patriots wanting to see what they have in him going forward to gauge the value of both players and seeing if Edelman is the answer at receiver when Welker likely leaves after the season.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.