NFL.com – New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker has caught 240 passes over the last two seasons, with rare short-area quickness and an insane mental connection with Tom Brady. But Welker is not a true No. 1 receiver; not one that requires the best opposing cornerback on him. That’s Houston Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips’ stance, and he’s sticking to it. “Welker’s not (A.J.) Green,” Phillips told ESPN’s Paul Kuharsky when asked if Houston’s top corner Johnathan Joseph would track Welker around the field. “(Welker’s) a good player, but he’s not that big or a real athletic guy” Phillips said. “He’s a quick guy that gets open on option routes. (Cornerback Brandon) Harris actually played him pretty good. He got a holding penalty that hurt us early in the game. But Harris played pretty well … If we don’t get him on a speed guy, we’re in good shape.”
In this day and age when folks are stretching to find bulletin board material, the Welker comments are already getting noticed in New England. But it’s hard to argue with anything that Phillips says. Welker was held down by Harris last game, and Joseph would be better used on Brandon Lloyd or tight end Aaron Hernandez. “If you put a corner on him, they’re not quite as good,” Phillips said.
Excuse me, “stretching for bulletin board material” in New England? Why would we “stretch for bulletin board material” when the defensive coordinator of the team we’re facing this weekend is putting it in a nice, decorative magnetic frame and putting it on the board right there for us at eye level? Phillips has already backed off his comments faster than Shaughnessy on a Houston radio station, but we all know the real story. This was him being candid. This was a coordinator in the NFL pulling back the curtain and showing us what he really thinks behind closed doors. That Wes Welker is nothing but some kind of a gimmick. A system guy you can shut down with a better, more athletic, bigger, stronger, faster corner. That’s he’s basically Rudy Ruettiger, all heart and no athleticism but who lucked into having the best quarterback in the world getting him the ball 10 times a game. And any time you want to stop him you can. It’s that same condescending nonsense that Andy Gresh has been spouting about how Welker’s not “elite” because he can be shut down at any time by a superior cover guy. Notwithstanding the fact that week in and week out, season in and season out, no one has ever actually shut him down. How many more records does he have to shatter before these people will acknowledge he’s not some overachiever who needs to be graded on the curve? That Wes Welker is a gifted athlete with God-given talent?
*Most seasons with 100+ catches (and 105+, 110+, 115+ and 120+) in NFL history
*Most games with 10+ catches (and 11+, 12+, 13+, 14+ and 15+) in NFL history
*The only player ever with 3 straight 110+ catch seasons
*Patriots team records for career receptions, catches in a single season and yards in a season. All accomplished in 6 years
*And even this season, he was 3rd in the league in receptions and had more TDs catches than Detroit’s Calvin Johnson or Wade Phillips’ own Andre Johnson.
But still the narrative continues to be that Welker can be taken out of a game by any above average squid you happen to put in coverage, all evidence and common sense to the contrary. That’s what Wade Phillips thinks, anyway. I mean, let’s not kid ourselves it’s not easy to do just because no one’s ever done it. That game where “Brandon Harris played him pretty good” Welker had to settle for 3 catches for 52 yards. And oh, by the way, his team lit Houston up for 42 goddamned points and called off the dogs in the 4th quarter. So am I “reaching” for bulletin board material with this? No. We’d be doing that if I brought up the lettermen jackets thing again. And I won’t do that. @JerryThornton1
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