On Tuesday the NFL announced their decision to deny Julian Edelman’s appeal and uphold his four-game suspension for PED use. They conveniently dropped this news at around seven o’clock on Tuesday night, likely to avoid as much of the sports media hype as possible. This decision does not actually come as a surprise, because unless someone abuses their significant other, the suspension is unlikely to be reduced.
Edelman’s appeal argued that issues with paperwork filing, as well as the fact that the league’s drug testers did not recognize the substance Edelman was tested positive for, was enough to clear his name. However, despite the investigation finding proof that the NFL did make mistakes with the test results, the league upheld the suspension. Edelman could choose to continue this fight in federal court if he believes that his case is strong enough.
Until that happens, however, the Patriots need to go on the assumption that they will be without their star receiver for their first four games of the season. These games are not exactly a cakewalk, as they play the Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Detroit Lions, and Miami Dolphins.
Although Edelman’s absence is significant, New England has a plethora of receivers who may be able to fill his role to an extent. Jordan Matthews is the most talented among them, and he would be able to contribute in a huge way if he can learn the system. Rookie Braxton Berrios will also likely be thrown right into the spotlight and asked to play meaningful snaps.
However, most likely the Patriots will rely heavily on their All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski and their stacked running backs corps. Gronk will likely see a high number of targets, especially against teams with weak safeties like Miami and Detroit. The Patriots running backs will play crucial roles against Houston and Jacksonville. The Texans have a great defense, but their big linebackers will likely struggle covering Rex Burkhead and James White out of the backfield or out of the slot. The Jaguars defense is fast and aggressive in coverage, so New England will likely use their bolstered offensive line and their power running formations to march the ball down the field.
Losing Edelman is not a good thing for New England. However, knowing this early in the summer that he will not be available means that the Patriots can focus on developing other receivers, as well as expanding the playbook for the running backs and tight ends. The team caught a bad break by being forced to face two highly talented defenses without their best receiver, but this will benefit them in the long run as the rest of the offense adapts and becomes more diversified.
Until next time – B$