Creativity can sometimes be a lost art in New England. With the offense's supreme trio of quarterback Tom Brady and wide receivers Randy Moss and Wes Welker, the Patriots have been afforded the ability to simply drop back, throw it up and put the scoreboard operators to work. But, now that the Patriots have a nifty pair of skillful receivers, how can Julian Edelman and Brandon Tate change the dynamics of the offense?
Julian Edelman has already proven to be most useful as a slot receiver, and he capitalized on that role in 2009 with 37 receptions for 359 yards and one touchdown in 11 regular-season games. He was greatly limited during his rookie season, though, by a season's worth of injuries and an adjustment to a new position.
The former Kent State quarterback can bring a new dimension to the offense if the Patriots decided to implement a trick play in the Wildcat formation — he has quarterbacked that formation in scout-team drills — or if they wanted to draw up a reverse play in which Edelman had an option to pass the ball.
And, as evidenced by his electrifying punt return for a touchdown in the Patriots' 2009 preseason opener, Edelman is deadly in open space, so the Patriots would greatly benefit by working some screen plays in his favor, simply for the opportunity to get the ball in his hands out in the flat.
Brandon Tate is still a wild card. The North Carolina product only saw a handful of snaps during his 2009 rookie season, due to a knee injury that he suffered in college and presumably aggravated when he debuted in New England. The Patriots showed an immediate desire to get him the ball on an end-around in his first game against the Buccaneers in London, and Tate gained 11 yards on the play.
Tate, more than anyone on the Patriots, could be a force on trick plays. He was an explosive playmaker at UNC, and he could run it and catch it in Percy Harvin-like fashion. The ACC's all-time leader in kick return yardage already displayed his speed in that area during the Patriots' spring practices, and he'll have an opportunity to shine there. If he's that much of an asset in the open field, like Edelman, Tate will garner similar reps.
Few teams are lucky enough to have skill players with Tate's speed. The Eagles struck gold with DeSean Jackson, and the Vikings have a similar asset with Harvin. If Tate has overcome that right knee injury, he could be dominant in the AFC East.
Edelman and Tate still have plenty of work ahead of them to develop as prototypical wide receivers, but their dynamite athleticism must have the Patriots' coaching staff salivating over an array of intriguing options in 2010.
NESN.com will be answering one Patriots question every day until July 24.
Tuesday, July 13: Is Belichick taking on too much responsibility?
Thursday, July 15: How effective will Wes Welker be coming off of his injury?