Tuesday, December 09, 2008

It's not the size, it's how you use it and other thoughts

Get yer minds out of the gutter. I'm talking about Wes Welker, the Slot Machine.

Yes, I know that's what the announcers were calling him, but it fits.

Welker, with all due respect to Randy Moss, has been the Patriots best receiver over the past two seasons. Sure, Welker's the slot receiver, and yes, Moss has been the go to guy in the red zone, but Welker is the team's number one guy.

Over two seasons Welker has already far exceeded any other receiver's two season total of receptions with the 208 he's had since joining the team. Last season he set a new team record with 112. Through 13 games Welker, who has become Cassel's safety blanket, has 96, and is averaging 7.4 receptions per game, which puts him on a pace of 118 for the season. Welker is also on pace to finish with 1233 yards for the season after logging 1175 last year.

He is the guy that makes the offense work right now and possibly the toughest guy on the field.


The news that Tedy Bruschi is heading to the IR is not reassuring given the number of injuries on that side of the ball. Yes, Seau looked rusty, but I expected that given only one day of practice. Hopefully he's up to speed for the Raiders game. The flip side on Seau - what if the Pats hadn't signed him?

Given the news regarding Bruschi, I'm guessing we're going to hear about some other roster move to bolster the defense.

If Vince Wilfork is lost for any significant amount of time, that's a problem.

The secondary has already been exposed due to a lackluster pass rush. The last thing the DB's need is a weakened D line.

Before anybody whines about Asante Samuel - he would be just as exposed in this defense. Samuel, for all his reputation, was not significantly better than Ellis Hobbs last season (he did have a career year in regards to interceptions, but that's the only place) according to STATS, Inc. Samuel, this year, in a defense that was not getting to the QB the way the Pats were last year, has only three interceptions. A good line makes a pro-bowl defensive back. It doesn't work the other way around.

Yes, the Pats secondary has struggled this season, but that's in large part because the team has had trouble applying pressure to the quarterback. And before anyone argues that with me, think back to all of Ty Law's INT's of Peyton Manning - every time Manning has been flushed out of the pocket and was facing hits from the likes of Jarvis Green and Richard Seymour or Mike Vrabel.

It is the area in most need of being addressed by the Patriots whose defense has often looked more like the 2002 edition than any of the other editions since the Super Bowl in 2001.


Chris Stone said...

The loss of Thomas was huge... along with all the other losses. Its amazing that by 4th quarter sunday the defense had only one starting lineman left, and with the linebackers they had 2 guys that were back in the NFL less than a week. Plus, neither of their starting safeties (from the begining of the season) were left.

And I thought they did pretty well.

Kevin Smith said...

Overall, I think the defense played better as the game went along, but given that they were playing against Seneca Wallace and an offensive line playing back-ups, I have to admit, I expected more - especially of Richard Seymour who was lined up over a back-up left tackle. Without the Meriweather blitz and forced fumble, Seymour is barely a blip on the radar.

For a guy who's supposed to be one of the best defensive linemen in the game, I expect a much bigger impact on a game when matched against a back-up. With the lack of pressure - even from the healthy guys like Seymour - the Pats made Seneca Wallace look like a pro-bowl candidate at times during that game.

It gets harder now for them to perform at a high level given the sheer number of injuries - which is why I think that if they make the playoffs, they won't be there for long.