FOXBORO, Mass. — This season has been a transitionary period of sorts for the New England Patriots’ offense.
No Rob Gronkowski.
One offensive line starter missing the entire season and another missing at least half of it.
Rapid turnover in the receiving corps, including the departures of Antonio Brown, Demaryius Thomas and Josh Gordon.
With all of those factors at play, the Patriots have not looked like the offensive juggernaut fans are accustomed to seeing in New England. They’ve struggled to run the ball; their secondary receiving options behind Julian Edelman have shown flashes but not yielded consistent production; and, for the first time in years, they’re being carried by their defense, which has allowed just four touchdowns through eight games.
Edelman, though, isn’t worried. New England still leads the NFL in scoring (31.3 points per game), and the veteran receiver believes his group will round into form during the second half of the season
“That’s just football,” Edelman, who leads the team with 52 catches for 574 yards and four touchdowns, said Friday. “Everyone thinks we’re in a huge panic over here. We’ve made plays when we’ve had to. Obviously, we’re not where we want to be, but I think that’s everyone in the league right now at this time of the year. If you’re clicking on all cylinders right now, then it’s tough to hold that. So as long as we go out and try to continue to improve and get better, I think that’ll put us in our best situation to go out and execute.”
The Patriots’ offense could receive a boost this week in the form of first-round draft pick N’Keal Harry, who is eligible to make his regular-season NFL debut Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens after spending the last eight weeks on injured reserve. Edelman, who took it upon himself to mentor Harry during training camp, said he’s excited to see what the rookie receiver can bring once he’s activated.
“He works hard,” Edelman said. “He’s young. Just like everyone else, we’ve all got to go out there and we’ve got to work on our craft and improve. He’s a young guy, and he’s got a lot of ground to make up. The game’s going to be completely different than practice, but he’s got a good attitude, and he works hard. I’m looking forward to seeing him out soon.”
This week’s game should be the toughest yet for the undefeated Patriots. The 5-2 Ravens boast the NFL’s top rushing offense and have averaged 30.6 points per game this season, second-most in the league.
“If you like football, this is a game to watch,” Edelman said.