Michael Lombardi made his weekly appearance on Bill Simmons’ podcast Friday, and per usual, part of their conversation focused on Lombardi’s former employer, the New England Patriots.
In his latest guest spot, Lombardi said if he were running the Patriots’ offense, he’d try lining wide receiver Julian Edelman up at a different position. And no, he wasn’t talking about quarterback.
“I was playing ‘Madden’ with them, I wouldn’t have a running back on the field,” Lombardi told Simmons. “I would put the three tight ends, one receiver, and I’d (put) Edelman in the backfield. And then you would create all sorts of problems with it, because you couldn’t really match it, and Edelman could run enough, like they did with (former Patriots tight end Aaron) Hernandez when he was in the backfield.”
Hernandez lined up all over the field during his tenure with New England, including behind quarterback Tom Brady. Lombardi, who served as an assistant to the Patriots’ coaching staff during the 2014 and 2015 seasons, envisioned an offense with one wide receiver split wide, three tight ends (Rob Gronkowski, Martellus Bennett and either AJ Derby or Greg Scruggs) on the field together and Edelman lined up where a running back typically would.
“There’s so many ways you can go, and that’s why tight ends are like knights in the chessboard, because they’re so versatile in what they can do, and they can attack from so many places,” Lombardi told Simmons. “When you have really good knight play in chess, you’re a dominant chess player. When you have really good tight ends in football, you can be a dominant offense. And I think that’s what it is.”
Lombardi even advocated using Edelman in the backfield once running back Dion Lewis returns from the physically unable to perform list.
“Dion is checkmate for all of them,” Lombardi told Simmons. “Because if you want to play nickel, Dion will — six people, beep beep, it’s Roadrunner. Everybody misses, and he goes for five yards. And if not, he can catch the ball in the backfield. And then you can take Edelman and put him in the backfield and put Dion out.
“See, everything the Patriots do is to get to the adjustments of the defense. That’s what the essence of their offense is. What is their offense? We want you to adjust your defense. And once we know what your adjustments are, we have you in checkmate.”
Edelman does have experience carrying the ball. His 34 career rushing attempts rank second all-time among Patriots wide receivers, according to Pro Football Reference. Only Irving Fryar (35) had more.
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