Photo: AP Images
Wes Welker has been Tom Brady’s favourite target for years, but as ESPN’s Mike Reiss points out, he saw his playing time drop significantly yesterday.According to Reiss, Welker played in 64% of his team’s snaps against the Titans, which is a huge drop off the 89.2% he played in last season.
Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, and Brandon Lloyd all saw more action than him.
So what gives?
Welker was 2nd in the NFL in targets last season. And since joining the Patriots in 2007, he has never ranked lower than 21st in the NFL in targets.
But this is a different Patriots offence. Both tight ends — Gronkowski and Hernandez — played every single snap yesterday. And it’s clear that those two guys are now the main pass-catching options for Brady.
Welker became Brady’s No. 1 receiver by working the slot and finding the soft spot in the middle of the zone. But Gronkowski and Hernandez occupy the same spaces on the field as Welker, and have made a lot of what he does redundant. In addition, Hernandez and Gronk can do things that Welker can’t — like run a fade to the corner of the endzone.
Welker is still a meaningful part of this offence. But he is no longer the first guy Tom Brady looks for when they break the huddle.
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