Do the New England Patriots miss WR Wes Welker?
I am a diehard Patriots fan, and I like Welker. I really do. Even despite the fact that Welker dropped a pass in Super Bowl XLVI that would have sealed the Patriots’ victory. Every Patriots fan knows what I’m talking about. Welker was incredibly productive when he was on the Patriots, his Rex Ryan “foot fetish”-inspired press conference was fantastic and his Old Spice commercials are hysterical.
Many Patriots fans thought it was an act of betrayal when Welker signed with the Denver Broncos as a free agent. I never thought that and I still don’t. Welker was a free agent and as such, he could choose to sign with any team that wanted him. Was it a huge loss when the Patriots failed to re-sign Welker as many fans believed, and do the Patriots miss him?
No, it was not. And no, they don’t.
I know that’s weird to say about a fan favorite who had 672 receptions in the six seasons he was with the Patriots, but New England did what they always do when they lose a player due to injury, free agency or (gulp) jail — they moved on.
It was expected that Danny Amendola would be Welker’s replacement when the Patriots signed him this past offseason. Amendola’s talent was never the question, but his durability was. Amendola missed time due to injury when he was with the St. Louis Rams, and he missed time this season. When he has been in the lineup, Amendola has been productive, logging 54 receptions in only six starts this season.
The big surprise has been Julian Edelman. Edelman, a college QB who was converted to WR, has 105 receptions this season – double the combined total for Patriots’ next two leading receivers, Amedola and RB Shane Vereen. Edelman has been great this season, and Patriots QB Tom Brady has needed him due to a young receiving corps and injuries.
Edelman (along with the running back by-committee approach) is a huge reason the Patriots are still playing football with a shot at playing in the Super Bowl. However, there is at least one person who believes Welker and Edelman aren’t even close.
“I can’t compare the two because Wes is – he’s something special,” Broncos safety Mike Adams said Monday, per CSN New England. “He can jive up the ball and then speed out and have you off balance. Edelman, he doesn’t do that. He’s a one-speed guy. He doesn’t have the same ability or the quickness that Wes has in the slot. I guess that is the main difference between them – they’re totally different players.”
I think Edelman has done just fine this season. If he has only speed as a weapon, it must be a good one. His 105 receptions this season are 32 more than Welker’s 73. Both Edelman and Welker are very productive slot receivers, and I think Edelman proved this season that he is more than capable of being a go-to receiver for Brady.
Do I still like Welker? Sure, but I certainly won’t be rooting for him on Sunday when the Patriots play the Broncos in Denver in the AFC Championship game, and I think the Patriots will continue to be just fine without him.