Brian Poole and Julian Edelman are not strangers. In fact, the Jets cornerback and Patriots wide receiver are linked forever thanks to NFL Films.
Poole, who began his career with the Falcons, was not covering Edelman when he made his circus catch in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl 51, but Poole was the player NFL Films showed talking to Edelman as the play was being reviewed.
“I caught it,” Edelman said to Poole. “Crazy, I swear to God.”
“No way, look at that,” Poole responded, pointing to the big screen showing the replay at NRG Stadium.
“I was covering [Danny] Amendola,” Poole recalled this week. “I didn’t see him catch it. I definitely thought that he didn’t catch it.”
The Edelman catch was key piece of the Patriots’ dramatic comeback from a 28-3 deficit to win that Super Bowl.
“It’s hard to get over that one,” Poole said.
When the Jets and Patriots met on Monday night, the stakes were not as high as that game three years ago. Still, Poole expected to see plenty of Edelman. In his first season with the Jets, Poole has been one of the surprising standouts for the Jets. The slot cornerback has impressed with his physicality and his knack for making tackles.
“Well to me he’s rare in the aspect of he’s physical as a tackler, he’s done a really good job in the zone defense and I think he’s gotten a lot better in the man-coverage stuff,” coach Adam Gase said. “I know that was one of the things that he was really focused on getting better at. His attitude and his aggressiveness, I think it’s rare for a DB. I don’t think you see many guys that like contact like he likes. He’s just been one of those guys that he comes to work every day. He finds a way to get better and he’s one of those guys that our defensive guys you can see he’s a part of, he’s tight with that group. He’s one of those guys that stands up in front and these guys, that’s a tight knit group in that DB room.”
The Jets signed Poole to a one-year, $3.5 million contract in March to replace Buster Skrine as their nickel cornerback. He was scheduled to be a restricted free agent with Atlanta, but the Falcons decided not to tender him, thinking they could sign him at a lower rate.
As Gase said, man-to-man coverage was something that people questioned about Poole, but he has not had any problems so far.
“That was something that a lot of people really felt like I couldn’t do,” Poole said. “It was definitely something I wanted to prove I could do and do at a high level.”
Playing physically is something no one can question about Poole. He is a hard hitter who does not shy away from contact.
“I feel like that’s one of my strengths,” Poole said. “I feel like that’s something you can’t teach. Either you’ve got it or you don’t. You can’t teach nobody how to be tough. Either you’re tough or you’re not.”
Poole said even when he was young he was a hard hitter.
“I think I was always pretty physical,” he said.
Poole said he believes the Jets defense has not yet reached its potential. Monday night was another challenge for the Jets and Poole knew what to expect from Edelman.
“I know he’s going to bring it,” Poole said. “I know he’s going to compete hard. I know they’re going to be prepared. He’s a good player. I’ve gone against him a few times. We’ve got a good feel for each other.’
Poole said he and Edelman have a mutual admiration.
“When you battle against a guy a few times, you kind of gain a respect for each other,” he said. “I would say that we both respect each other’s games and we compete when we go at it.”