Editor's note: Julian Edelman is expected to serve as the Patriots' No. 2 quarterback again on Sunday as Jimmy Garoppolo inactive. This story was originally published on Sept. 22.
Frank Edelman remembers the first sight of his teenage son as a high school quarterback. It wasn't pretty.
"Jules was 5-2 or 5-3 as a junior on varsity, just tiny," Edelman said. "All you saw was his head over center."
Little Jules, or Julian, grew 7 or 8 inches before the start of his senior season at Woodside High in Woodside, California.
"And then all hell broke loose," his father recalled from the auto service shop he still runs more than 3,000 miles from Gillette Stadium. "Jules started dominating just like he had in Pop Warner."
New England Patriots fans know the rest of the story. Julian Edelman became a dual-threat quarterbacking star at the College of San Mateo and then at Kent State before Bill Belichick decided he was worth drafting in the seventh round in 2009. Belichick didn't know what position Edelman would play for Tom Brady's team. The coach just knew the kid was good enough at football to play somewhere.
On Thursday, that somewhere just might be back under center against the Houston Texans. Brady is suspended, Jimmy Garoppolo has a bum shoulder, and rookie Jacoby Brissett might be one J.J. Watt hit away from needing a temporary replacement. That's where Julian Edelman, stud receiver, comes in.
Edelman hasn't thrown a single pass in 89 career NFL regular-season games. However, he threw one pass in the postseason, a 51-yard touchdown strike to Danny Amendola against Baltimore two seasons ago. It's only one of the biggest passes in recent Patriots history. Without it, New England probably doesn't reach the Super Bowl, and people are probably talking today about Belichick and Brady's failure to win the big one since 2004.
Frank Edelman was Julian's first and longtime football coach, from the youth leagues into high school, and he was heavily involved in the management of his son's college career. For the record, despite reports that Belichick has been prepping Julian to play quarterback if needed, Frank doesn't think it's going to happen.
"You're dealing with Bill Belichick here, and you'd have to take two quarterbacks down," he said. "And it's an AC joint for Garoppolo. They can numb that. Jules played through a sprained AC joint in high school, and Ben Roethlisberger played with it last year in a playoff game. I thought Brissett played pretty well last week. I mean, Jules could play a quarter or so and hang in there, and if anyone can do it, the Patriots can. I just don't see it."
What if Belichick actually put Edelman in at quarterback against Houston, the way he put Edelman and Troy Brown in the secondary in the past?
"I'd be a nervous wreck watching," Frank said. "Jules has been out of that quarterback position for eight years. We're not really good at winging it -- that's not in our DNA. We've got to study for a test. And he's added muscle for the punishment he has to take as a receiver, so he might have tighter mechanics trying to throw the ball.
"Can Jules do it? Yeah, he could definitely do it. But could he do it well? I'm just not sure. I don't know how many picks he would throw. I'll say this: He does know the offense like the back of his hand. That wouldn't be a problem."
Frank Edelman said he has been eternally grateful that his son ended up with Belichick, a master at cloaking weaknesses and accentuating strengths. But if he were asked to assume Belichick's role for a night and game plan his son's return to the quarterback position, Frank said he would lean on the athleticism and ankle-breaking quickness Julian showed in running for nearly 2,500 yards (and throwing for nearly 5,000 yards) over three seasons at Kent State.
"I'd have Jules drop back to pass, let the play break down and then find the open alley and run," Frank said. "I'd have him hand off, run the read-option, run some bootlegs, some waggle passes. He's going to have to move the pocket. Remember, he's only 5-10, so he can't throw over the line of scrimmage. And without practice, you can't wait for throwing lanes to open.
"When Jules runs, as long as he tries to stay vertical and runs north and south, he'll be all right. If he takes off that way, J.J. Watt won't catch him. But if Jules tries to run sideways, those big guys are fast, and they eat up a lot of yards.
"When Jules throws, I'll bet you five bucks he'll throw those little crossing routes to Amendola and [Chris] Hogan. I promise you he'll stay between the hashes, and he won't throw one ball to the outside.
"And the other thing I can promise you is that Jules will do the very best he can."