Few know the New England Patriots playbook better than Julian Edelman, and he’s as fascinated as the rest of us as to what their offense will look like this season.
With Josh McDaniels leaving for the Las Vegas Raiders this offseason, the big question for the Patriots is who is going to call plays now. Bill Belichick either declined to or wasn’t able to bring in an offensive coordinator this season, leaving some combination of Belichick, Joe Judge and Matt Patricia to call plays.
It might work. It might also become a too many cooks in the kitchen situation. But this is a pivotal year for Mac Jones, who is expected to be the long-term answer at quarterback, and giving him instability in a key moment is a precarious move.
Having watched parts of the lone Patriots preseason game thus far, Edelman told “The Rich Eisen Show” he was seeing some new stuff.
“I think it’s a learning process for everyone, the whole team,” Edelman said. “It’s going to be interesting, it’s very interesting because I watched that game, I watched the cut-ups, and a lot of the concepts are nothing I’ve really seen. A lot of them are very vanilla, which is very procedural with preseason, they want to throw vanilla stuff out there and see mano-y-mano can the kid get open, can he make the catch. Let’s not try to scheme anything up. Those are things I’ve never seen, and it’s going to be interesting.
“Josh McDaniels, he’s a really good play-caller, and we saw Josh McDaniels and Mac Jones work last year together and he had some great results. Now, you’re going to see your biggest leap usually from your young quarterback Year 1 to Year 2 because he’s going to know the system, know the environment, the schedule, everything usually comes easier the second year. But he’s going in with a completely different mindset with (this setup), and now he’s got to learn how they’re going to call plays, they’ve got to learn which plays he likes, so it’s going to be interesting.”
The Patriots’ playbook has been well-known for being complicated given how long Tom Brady and McDaniels worked together. That was often pointed to as a reason young receivers struggled in New England’s system.
It’s possible things got a little too convoluted, and with both Brady and McDaniels out of the picture, Belichick and whoever else had to go back to the drawing board.
“At the end of my last year there, it was getting pretty complex,” Edelman said of the playbook. “…In college, all these guys are doing (something where) one word calls everyone a play. So then (the Patriots) were like subbing formations with words, so zero-out slot was now Rome, so I could see them trying to simplify to allow the guys to play fast. Ultimately if you know something, you could have six plays and if you run them perfectly against everything and you run those six plays damn good every single time you should be able to be alright. So I could see them doing that.
And, ultimately, if there is a head coach in the NFL who could help offset those headaches, it’s probably Belichick.
“Honestly, you don’t know how this really came about,” Edelman said. “They could have had someone lined up, didn’t go through, something could have happened. So it’s hard to put a judgment on it, it’s going to be a learning experience, but if anyone can do it, Bill Belichick is a pretty smart guy.”