The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may be leaning more toward putting Darrelle Revis on the best receiver, but with both Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola unlikely to play, who would that be for the New England Patriots?
Julian Edelman may be a logical choice at first glance, but he's not a particularly dangerous player. He has 20 catches for 157 yards on the season at an average of a miserable 7.9 yards per catch. He's very small, not all that fast, won't outmuscle or outjump anyone for the ball and he's only dangerous from the slot, where he can use his quickness in two-way go situations to get separation. Simply put: you don't need to use Darrelle Revis to stop Edelman.
Then again, you don't need to use Revis to cover Kenbrell Thompkins or Aaron Dobson, either. Those rookies are constantly on a different page than Tom Brady, which has led to the latter passing for an abysmal 5.2 yards per attempt this year, well below his 7.5 career average. Thompkins and Dobson have much more physical talent as boundary receivers than Edelman, but they're not mentally at the level to produce consistently in the Patriots offense.
There's another important difference. Julian Edelman is not going to be better against the Buccaneers than he was the past two games. But with a long week to prepare for the Bucs, there's a decent chance Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson will have shored up many of their
So what does this mean? I'm not sure, actually. The Bucs may decided to try to take out a specific receiver and force the rest to beat the Bucs. I think it's more likely that the team is going to leave Revis on one side, and call a variety of different coverage concepts. That is after all what they've done the past two games to some good effect. And if you want to confuse rookies, you want to give them lots of different, shifting and complicated coverage concepts.
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