It was another surprising year for the NE Patriots. Written off before the season started because of the loss of most of their secondary, then again with the injury devastation to their front line. Bust as always, they adapt and move forward, managing to win games with what they have. Dion Lewis is out for the season, we'll move LeGarrette Blount up. Lose Blount as well, we'll use the passing game. And the injuries weren't limited to offense, on defense Jamie Collins, Jerod Mayo, and Chandler Jones all missed a number of games and the Patriots kept winning.
That all ended with the loss of Julian Edelman. A sport like football, where 40-50 players are on the field every game, is a true team sport. One player cannot do it alone. But there is often a player you think of as key to the success of a team. In the Patriots case, it seems that player is Julian Edelman. With the running game decimated (and never the Patriots strong suit), they went to the air and Edelman was a key to that success. Without him as a threat, that allowed other teams to focus on Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola. And while The Gronk is a dominant player with the ball in his hands, he benefits from being the 2nd or 3rd man in coverage. He doesn't have the quick moves to get away as quickly underneath as Edelman and that extra time Brady has to hold the ball is all a good defense needs.
It was an eye opener to me to realize how well the Patriots recovered from all their other injuries except this one.