Sometimes in sports there are coach-player relationships that one cannot understand. Certain coaches prefer certain players for unfathomable reasons, even though everyone else knows that the player is not really that good. Such is the case with New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and wide receiver Julian Edelman.
Edelman is currently the No. 3 receiver for the Patriots, playing behind Danny Amendola and Aaron Dobson. That means that when McDaniels decides to go with three-receiver sets, one will see Amendola, Dobson and Edelman on the field at the same time. This is not good.
Edelman and Amendola are the same type of player. Both are best-suited to play inside as a slot receiver. However, McDaniels clearly prefers to move them around and have one play on the outside in three-receiver sets. It appears to be Edelman in most cases. If anything, Amendola has shown that he can handle a limited amount of outside routes. Edelman is not on that level.
To play outside receiver in the NFL, one has to have the size and speed to get open. Edelman possesses neither of those qualities. He is undersized and is not a straight-line burner. His best quality is quickness, the ability to get open in a split-second. The preferred route to do that is called an option route, in which the wide receiver just runs straight and picks a side of the field after five or 10 yards. That is the only route that Edelman can consistently run.
The two players that are competing for the No. 4 receiver job are much more suited to play on the outside. Kenbrell Thompkins has shown the ability to get in and out of his breaks at a decent rate and can at the very least be a decent possession receiver. Josh Boyce is a burner, but that is valuable too because he can get behind defenders which would add a consistent vertical threat to this offense.
But no, McDaniels wants to play as many slot receivers as possible at the same time. Edelman should be the backup to Amendola, but he will never be that guy so long as McDaniels is calling the shots. This could cost the Patriots a game or two down the road.
Philip Alexander is a New England Patriots writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @steely0906, “like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.