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Edelman’s Return Should Give Patriots A Third Down Boost

Ian Logue
Ian Logue on Twitter
7 years ago at 6:00 am ET
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary

Edelman’s Return Should Give Patriots A Third Down BoostGreg M. Cooper - USA TODAY Sports

In the last few games, the Patriots have had their issues moving the chains and it’s hard not to wonder how much better they might finally be when Julian Edelman returns for the postseason.

Sunday saw New England finish 4-of-14 on third down, following up a performance last week against the Jets where they finished 1-of-10, putting them at 5-of-24 (21%) over the final two games.  In fact, in each of their four losses this season, the Patriots are a combined 14-of-54 (26%) on third down, with Tom Brady completing 19-of-38 (50%) for 259 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 interception.

Looking back at their twelve wins, Brady was 73-of-107 (68%) for 888 yards, 8 TDs, and 1 INT throwing the football on third down, with Edelman and Danny Amendola leading the team with 11 receiving first downs, followed by Rob Gronkowski, who had 10.

However, WEEI.com columnist Ryan Hannable looked at the Patriots conversion rate on third down before and after Edelman got hurt:

It’s obvious the effect his loss has had.  Edelman went down on the final play of the first quarter against the Giants in Week 10 after, coincidentally enough, a 12 yard reception on a 3rd-and-4.  From there New England’s passing game as a whole has struggled.

Inspired by WEEI’s numbers, we compiled all of the Patriots passing plays up to Edelman’s final play and then every play thereafter, and Brady’s completion percentage on 3rd down dropped dramatically after Edelman was lost:

BRADY 3RD DOWN PASSING STATS:

With Edelman in the line-up:
53-of-73 (73%) 637-yards 5 TDs 1 INT
Without him:
39-of-72 (54%) 510-yards 5 TDs 1 INT

Here’s a quick rundown of all of Brady’s totals with and without Edelman in the line-up:

TOM BRADY OVERALL:

With Edelman in the line-up:
235-of-342 (69%) 2804-yards 23 TDs 2 INTs
Without him:
167-of-282 (59%) 1966-yards 13 TDs, 5 INTs

TOM BRADY RED ZONE PASSING:

With Edelman in the line-up:
36-of-59 (61%) 286-yards 19 TDs 1 INT
Without him:
17-of-24 (71%) 102 yards 8 TDs 1 INT

Looking at the red zone stats, while Brady’s completion percentage is actually higher since Edelman went down, it’s important to note that Brady has less than half the number of attempts down in scoring territory, which highlights the fact they’ve struggled to move the ball as effectively without him.

The bigger question will be once Edelman returns, how much more effective the passing game will be once he’s paired again with Gronkowski.  Both Brandon LaFell and Amendola experienced a lot of success last year, largely in part to the amount of attention Edelman and Gronk received.  That opened up a lot of opportunities for the other receivers in one-on-one coverage, which was what helped New England advance and ultimately beat Seattle.

That road begins in two weeks and fortunately , it looks like Edelman will finally be a part of it, which is great news for a team that has obviously missed him.

 


Posted Under: Patriots Commentary

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