The was some debate this past offseason about whether the New England Patriots would bring Danny Amendola back for another season. It looks like they made the right call.
Thurst into a more prominent role following Julian Edelman’s season-ending ACL tear, Amendola quietly is putting together one of the best seasons of his career at age 31. His 23 catches through four games equal his 12-game total from 2016, and he’s already surpassed last season’s mark with 267 receiving yards.
Amendola is on pace for 854 receiving yards this season, which would smash his previous career high of 689.
Though he’s a constant injury risk — a concussion already cost him one game this season — Amendola is an incredibly reliable target for quarterback Tom Brady when he is on the field. All but four of the 27 passes Brady has thrown his way this season have resulted in catches, and 15 of those have moved the chains.
Against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday night, Amendola caught eight passes on eight targets for 77 yards and converted three third downs in a 19-14 Patriots victory. He’s picked up the necessary yardage on third down seven times this season, and his only touchdown catch came on fourth-and-goal.
“There?s nothing I don?t love about Danny Amendola,” Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said Friday in a conference call. “Every time he?s out there, you feel good about what may happen if the ball is headed towards him, and he always comes up big in the biggest moments or biggest games.”
McDaniels added: “Danny?s a great teammate and he?s a great team player. All I know is that he?s ready to go each week, he always does his role to the best of his ability, and he makes an impact for us on offense. So I know he?s doing a great job for us. Obviously, we love having him, and it?s a great part of our job to have an opportunity to coach guys like that.”
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick had similarly high praise for the veteran wideout, who took a pay cut before the season to remain with the Patriots.
“I thought Danny gave us a lot of critical plays in (Thursday’s) game,” Belichick said Friday. “He gave us punt returns, some catches and he blocked well. He had a couple of key blocks in the running game, as well, so I thought he really did a solid job for us in all the areas, in all of the things that he was asked to do, which he usually does. He’s one of our best and most dependable players.
Amendola has a knack for stepping up in big spots, with Super Bowls XLIX (five catches, 48 yards, touchdown) and LI (eight catches, 78 yards, touchdown, two-point conversion) standing out as the most prominent examples. A 2013 Week 1 win over the Buffalo Bills — Amendola’s first game as a Patriot — also sticks out in Belichick’s mind.
Amendola caught 10 passes on 14 targets for 104 yards in that game and converted two third downs on a drive that produced a game-winning field goal.
“I don?t think we would?ve had much chance to win without the plays that he made on the last drive in Buffalo,” Belichick said. “Whatever the numbers are, they are. I mean, I know that?s a big thing, to look at all of the numbers, just like the last question was about numbers and all that, but I think when you look at a player like Danny you see a pretty dependable, consistent performer that gives us good plays every week. …
“Even the great players are going to have (mistakes), but I would say Danny doesn?t have too many of those.”
Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images