January 9th 2010…the New York Jets knock off the Cincinnati Bengals in the wild-card round of the playoffs, boosted by a surprisingly strong performance from an offense that had struggled down the stretch of the season. They managed to produce on this day despite a lack of support from their supposed number one receiver, Braylon Edwards who only registered 2 receptions for 15 yards and had a perfectly thrown touchdown pass drop through his arms.
The game was an addition to a somewhat disappointing season for Edwards. He showed flashes of the big play potential the Jets traded for when they acquired him before week 5. Yet, there was no consistency. Edwards had 45 yards or less receiving in six of the Jets last seven regular season games, followed by the previously mentioned weak peformance in the wild-card round and a quiet divisional game with 2 receptions for 41 yards.
It started to turn around for Edwards in the AFC Championship Game, when he pulled in a 80 yard touchdown reception on a beautiful double move to give the Jets a first half lead. In the biggest of moments, Edwards responded and made a play that demonstrated his true potential in the Jets offense.
Approaching the 2010 season, he received rave reviews for the work he was putting in during the off-season. While everybody was understandably excited about the acquisition of Santonio Holmes, the coaching staff kept mentioning the extra effort they were seeing around the facility from Edwards.
The work paid off in 2010, as Edwards was the Jets best all-around receiver from the start of the season to the end. There were no more dropped passes, no more inconsistency…just a week in and week out, physical presence for the Jets both on the outside and over the middle. Unlike most receivers in the league, Edwards is willing blocker who provides a big boost to the Jets running game. He didn’t have as many highlight reel game winning catches as Santonio Holmes but that doesn’t mean Edwards was without his share of clutch receptions.
Before the 2010 season, it was seemed to be a no brainer that it would be Holmes over Edwards who would receive a long term deal with the Jets. It looked like even more of a no-brainer after Edwards DUI incident. Yet, the answer to the question seems a little foggier right now. Ultimately, it will depend on how the new Collective Bargaining Agreement is worked out but it would be foolish to write off Edwards chances of returning to the team at this point.
Last January, I wouldn’t say Edwards was that popular at all with fans. Now, I would say he is one of the more popular players on the team. Especially after repeatedly expressing his desire to return this off-season, while Santonio Holmes has been much colder about his loyalty to the Jets. It won’t be a popularity contest that determines who gets the money from Woody Johnson but it has been impressive how far Edwards has came with the Jets in only a year and a half.