Wes Welker is Non-Essential
People say “you aren’t going to win a Super Bowl with guys like Kenbrell Thompkins”. Well, the Patriots didn’t win a Super Bowl with Welker did they? For all his gaudy stats, he brought zero championships to New England and was never viewed as someone with exceptional leadership qualities.
To be clear, the Pats didn’t simply dismiss Welker. They gave him an offer which his agent felt was too low. Welker then got an offer from the Broncos. That's where it got fuzzy. The Welker camp says the Pats declined to match the Broncos offer while the Pats camp says they did their best to get him back and his agent said no.
It’s defense that is still the key for the Patriots to win another Super Bowl. Two of the last five winners have had defenses in the top two. The average ranking for scoring defense for the champions in this millennium is 8.7. The Patriots had defenses ranking 6, 1, & 2 respectively in their three Super Bowl seasons. This season New England only gives up 16.2 ppg, good enough for the fourth best scoring defense in the NFL (Denver is 24th).
Let’s take stock of where they are right now and where we can project them to be. A record of 5-1, and a top five power ranking in every news outlet, seems to indicate that the Patriots are doing just fine.
“But Tom Brady is struggling!!”
The Patriots have had a slew of injuries on the offensive side of the ball (Vereen, Amendola, Gronk). They lost top pass catchers even before the season started (Hernandez, Welker, Lloyd). Brady has his worst passer rating in his career. But, THEY. STILL. WIN. New England just beat a team widely regarded as the best in the NFC, right? The Patriots offense is still the 6th best in the league when it comes to turnover ratio. Brady and Belichick DO NOT NEED WELKER.
Where New England is really struggling this year has more to do with Gronkowski's absence than Welker's. New England ranks 30th in Red Zone TD conversion % this year versus third in 2012. You know who will drastically improve that number once he decides to play football again? Rob Gronkowski, who hauled in the fourth most regular season TDs (11) in 2012 (over Welker’s 6).
So, where will they be in late December?
I think they’ll be the #2 seed (maybe even the #1 seed). New England’s remaining “tough games” are in Miami, in Baltimore, and hosting Denver.
- The Colts still host Denver, go to KC, play the Titans twice, and go to Cinci.
- The Broncos have 8 more games against opponents with a .500 record or higher including a brutal four game stretch of @SD, KC, @NE, @KC (plus @Indy this weekend).
- The Chiefs still host the Colts, as well as play Denver and SD twice.
Bottom line: The Patriot Way still works; Wes Welker has proved to be non-essential personnel for the Patriots.
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As always, leave your questions, comments, and most likely complaints in the area below.