If the Patriots do lose Kevin Faulk — and it seems very much like that’s coming — just how hard will he be to replace?
That was the big question that was posed to Bill Belichick today after we got through the part about trying to figure out what’s really going on with him. And while there is the part about how reliable he is as a receiver and passing-down runner, the coach tended to focus more on the other things he does to make the Patriots offense go out of the more open sets.
“That role is a lot more than having the ball in your hands,” Belichick said. “Kevin is in there a lot of plays when he doesn’t have it in his hands – blocking, blitz pickup, formation. It’s not just handling the ball.
“We’ll try to put together a game plan that we can use to utilize all of our players and give ourselves the best chance to deal with the issues and the problems that Buffalo presents, which are numerous.”
The big thing Belichick hinted on there was how Faulk is, quite often, the last line of defense for Tom Brady. Saw one club’s scouting report on Faulk earlier today that described the third-down dynamo as an above average blocker who excels, in particular, in recognizing blitzes. It also says that he’s a bit small to anchor consistently, but he’s almost always in the right place, which means that at the very least, he can get in the way.
And that brings us to Danny Woodhead and Julian Edelman, two players seen as potential stopgaps or, in the very real event that Faulk is out for the year, replacements. Both guys have shown ability with the ball in their hands, and each can make plays in space.
But could either be trusted to block out of the backfield? Seems dicey, since Edelman was a college quarterback, and Woodhead (a record-breaking small college tailback) spent much of his last two years learning to play receiver.
The truth is, it’s a disservice to Faulk to think he could just be replaced. More likely is that the Patriots will have to work around his absence, and that might limit them a little more.
No matter how you slice it, this would be a big blow for the team to take.