Monday, November 23, 2009

A road map for Wes Welker

Boston Herald reporter Ron Borges asked a terrific question of Tom Brady after Sunday's 31-14 trouncing of the New York Jets. Darrelle Revis had all but taken Randy Moss out of the game -- his four-yard touchdown catch notwithstanding -- but the Jets, like most teams, had no answer for Wes Welker. Borges wanted to know what it was about Welker that made him so difficult to eliminate from the Patriots' offense.

Here's what Brady said:
"Well, when you line up in the slot, you have the whole field to work with. You can go short inside, short outside, long outside, long inside, you can stop at any point and you’re typically on the third DB that comes on the field. You’re a part of all the combinations with the running backs and the tight ends. It’s tough to do. You’ve got to see things very quickly. Wes is able to use his quickness to get open over the middle, in the flat, down the field.

"When you’re an outside guy, you’re usually against the better players and you have a really limited amount of field to work. So if they decide to really cover you, which [Kerry] Rhodes was typically over the top of Randy and then [Darrelle] Revis was on him – their two best players – then you’ve got to find other guys to work, and Wes really took advantage of it."

Patriots fans all know just how elusive Welker is and just how many different ways Brady can get him the ball. But we at One If By Land went back to the film to track the routes Welker ran in the first half against the Jets and get a sense for the different tactics he used to try to get open.

Here's the Welker road map -- with his eight first-half receptions highlighted as the darker lines:

And that's just in the first half.

It's easy to jump to the conclusion that opponents should start to double-team Welker and not double-team Moss.

But the Jets did that when Welker was over the middle, hitting him with linebackers and safeties when he tried to sit down in seams. They had no chance to double-team him, though, as long as he kept dodging and darting in different directions.

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