FOXBOROUGH — Julian Edelman is known for relentlessness. The Patriots slot receiver keeps attacking opponents with precision route running, sticky hands, and extraordinary toughness.
Edelman’s mastery of the offense, his ability to exploit soft spots, and his chemistry with Tom Brady has caused endless headaches for opponents. The Flying Squirrel drives coaches nuts.
Nobody knows this more than Jets boss Adam Gase. Edelman has had a field day against Gase’s Dolphins and Jets squads over the last few seasons.
“He’s a tough guy to game plan for, you’ve just got to be ready for a ton of stuff,’’ Gase said. “To me, I’ve seen him play so much and he’s worked over some of the teams that I’ve been on. He’s always been a guy that we’ve had to game plan for. He’s always been a guy that we’ve had to try to contain. I don’t know if I’ve ever really been a part of it to where we walked away from a game and been like, ‘Well, we shut him down,’ because that’s just not going to happen.’’
The proof is in the pudding.
In four games against teams where Gase was the head coach, Edelman has 31 catches for 375 yards and three touchdowns.
Edelman, who leads the Patriots in receptions (38) and receiving yards (449), had to leave the Week 3 win over the Jets in the second quarter after suffering a chest injury. He was working over the New York defense in that one, collecting seven catches for 62 yards and a touchdown in less than 30 minutes of work.
According to Gase, Edelman’s success always goes back to his mentality and intensity.
“I think what makes him such a tough cover is he does a great job with his stem of his routes. The way he plays. Every play he plays extremely hard. He makes things look the same,’’ said Gase. “He does a great job of, after he catches the ball, getting vertical. The run-after-catch has really been something that he’s created a lot of yards. He’s one of those guys that there’s so much he can do inside, outside, No. 3 in a three-by-one. I mean, he’s a tough guy to game plan for. You’ve just got to be ready for a lot of stuff.’’
While Gase has had countless nightmares about Edelman, he wasn’t the receiver who first started the night terrors for New England’s opponents.
“Either Wes [Welker], Danny [Amendola],’’ Gase said, when asked to compare Edelman to others. “To me, it’s like they’re cloning guys up there — it feels like it sometimes.’’
After creating a major buzz when he sparked his club to a win over the Cowboys, Jets quarterback Sam Darnold created a mini buzz when he labeled the Patriots’ top-ranked defense “not unbeatable” during a midweek news conference.
“Their defense is good, they have been all year,’’ Darnold said. “But just like any team, they’re not unbeatable. So, we’ve just got to go out there, find the weakness in the defense, and keep working it. So, that’s what we’re going to do Monday night.’’
While Darnold was complimentary, his comments could be interpreted as bulletin-board material. Last time an opponent slighted New England’s defense (see: Buffalo’s Dion Dawkins), the club took it personally. If that’s the feeling this week, the Patriots aren’t letting on. Compliments were the order of the day when it came to Darnold.
“He’s a good quarterback, we’ve definitely seen him do his thing,’’ said linebacker Elandon Roberts.
“He’s a great quarterback, he can make all the throws,’’ said Stephon Gilmore. “He opens that offense up and they’ve got some good skill players that he can get the ball to. So, it’s going to be a big challenge for us, pretty sure they’re going to be hyped for this game and we are too, so it’s going to be a good game on Monday night.’’
Darnold, who missed a month (and three games) with mononucleosis, has given the Jets a big boost in his return.
“I think he’s just the guy,’’ said Devin McCourty. “He looked great last week, just knowing what he wanted to do, getting the ball downfield. So, we’ve just got to be aware it’s going to be different from just that aspect of the first time we played them, we really had their third quarterback [Luke Falk] in there.’’
Gordon is out
Receiver Josh Gordon (ankle, knee), and tight ends Ryan Izzo (concussion) and Matt LaCosse (knee) missed practice again Saturday and were officially declared out for Monday’s game . . . Receivers Edelman (chest), Phillip Dorsett (hamstring), and Gunner Olszewski (hamstring), running back Rex Burkhead (foot), and safety Patrick Chung (chest) were limited in practice and questionable for the game. Olszewski is the only addition to the injury report.
Jim McBride can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.