How Julian Edelman reasserted himself into the Patriots' offense
Here's the formation at the start of the play. Edelman is to the right, stacked in front of Amendola.
He sells the corner route beautifully to Houston corner Jonathan Joseph. As you can see in the first screenshot below, Joseph has opened his hips to play the outside route. Unfortunately for him and the Texans, that was just a feint from Edleman. He has already turned the route inside. At this point there is nothing safety Eddie Pleasant can do. All Brady has to do is put the ball on the spot, and he'll have a big conversion. However, he doesn't do that. He leads Edelman a bit too far, and Pleasant breaks on it thinking he might have an interception. Edelman saves Brady and keeps the drive alive with a wonderful lunging catch.
The next play we'll look at takes place with just fewer than 11 minutes left in the first half. It's 1st and 10 for the Patriots from their own 20-yard-line, and they trail 10-7. Edelman is in the slot to Brady's left. I took the screenshot with Kenbrell Thompkins coming in motion to keep Edelman in the frame.
This is nothing more than a simple three-step drop from Brady on an out by Edelman. As soon as Brady's third foot hits the ground, the ball comes out. By that time, Edelman has gotten the necessary separation and made his break. It's nothing special, but anyone will take seven yards on first down. The takeaway here is the spot in the offense in which the Patriots have place Edelman. This is a vintage Welker play. With Brady rolling again, that can be a very lucrative spot for a receiver.
It's 1st and 10 from the Houston 44-yard-line with 10 minutes left in the third quarter and New England trailing 17-14. Edelman is again lined up in the left slot.
The Texans are in zone coverage here, and when linebacker Jeff Tarpinian passes Edelman off to the secondary, he runs a corner right into the soft part of the zone. Brady took pressure on this play, and in the screenshot below you can already see the ball floating over the 44-yard-line.
The pass is right on the money, aided by the fact that Edelman read the coverage beautifully and ran his route to the perfect spot, beating corner Kareem Jackson. Welker couldn't have done any better. He may have had an acrimonious end to his time in New England, but I like to believe he would have applauded Edelman had he seen this play.
SI STAFF: Player Rankings -- Peterson could struggle against Ravens run defense
BELLER: Analyzing the fantasy implications of a 9:30 a.m. ET kickoff in 2014
EDHOLM, MIGLIO: Bold Strategies -- Streater a sneaky pickup for playoffs
SI STAFF: Weekly Roundtable -- Revealing our fantasy MVPs and LVPs
FLOOD: Waiver Wire -- Underwood, Green could add depth for the playoffs
McQUADE: Risers, Sliders -- C.J. Spiller finally comes through for fantasy owners
BELLER: Early Week 14 Fantasy Advice -- Making sense of huge performances