L: Wes Welker; R: Danny Amendola
Living in Cincinnati, people just assume I’m a Bengals fan. I’m generally slow to reveal I’m actually a Patriots fan because they’ve apparently become the NY Yankees of football. Usually I get some response about Brady being a prima donna or Belichick being Darth Vader or how sick everyone is of them winning. So it’s been rather fun for me since Wes Welker signed with Denver. Now all I get is, “What are you going to do without Welker?”
I’m going to pray every day for the health and safety of Danny Amendola.
I know that Welker and Amendola are different receivers with different skill sets, but Amendola has the potential to make as many catches and be as productive as Welker (maybe even by stretching the field a little more and leaving the middle for Hernandez and Gronk). But only if he can stay healthy. And that’s a big IF.
What I Like About Welker
Welker has been durable and consistent. Even with his knee injury he barely missed any time. He’s never played less than 14 games in a season with New England and has averaged around 115 catches for 1,250 yards each season. (And many of those catches came on critical third down conversions.)
Plus, he performed well as a punt returner. Though his production waned a bit in the last two seasons, he was a true threat for several years.
I don’t know if the Pats offensive scheme led to Welker’s success, but I do know that the combination of Welker and the offensive game plan created an absolute superstar as far as the numbers are concerned. Welker was never a high profile personality, but his body of work over the last five years is pretty much unparalleled.
What I Don’t Like About Welker
Granted, this was a very difficult catch, but it’s one that needs to be made. This is where the big money is earned. Here’s Welker’s quote regarding the drop, “It comes to the biggest moment of my life, and [I] don’t come up with it.”
This could very well be why the Patriots felt Welker’s market value was a tad too high. Now I know mistakes should be forgiven (even Bill Buckner finally got off the hook in 2004), but then couple that drop with the third quarter drop against Baltimore in the AFC Championship game and I’m starting to wonder if Welker can make the big play when the pressure is on.
I couldn’t find a video of this drop, so here’s a recap from ESPN.
Welker drop a turning point: In terms of a turning point in the game, a Wes Welker dropped pass early in the third quarter was when the Patriots’ fortunes turned in the wrong direction. The Patriots led 13-7 and had advanced to the Ravens’ 34, facing a third-and-8 when Welker couldn’t corral a pass close to the first-down marker. The Ravens scored a touchdown on their next possession and never trailed again.
While this catch didn’t actually cost New England the game (Brady has repeatedly shown he can’t handle the Ravens D), it certainly shifted the momentum of the game. I distinctly remember commenting that “it was all downhill from here” for the Pats after the Welker drop. (I was immediately pooh-poohed, but as more often than not, I was right.) I’d also like to point out that the pass hit him directly in the hands.
So How Do I Feel About Losing Welker?
How many Superbowls has Welker helped the Patriots win?
You can be a regular season stud, but if you’re not going to perform when the pressure is on, maybe it’s time to move on. I know two non-catches shouldn’t offset Welker’s entire body of work, but in the NFL, one play can make a career. Welker could have one SB ring (maybe two) had he come up with the catches, but today he remains ringless.
Look at Joe Flacco. Very, very pedestrian in the regular season. Then one – that’s ONE – brilliant postseason and he signs a $20 million a year deal.
It’s all in when you make the plays.