If their dominating week 1 victory against the Tennessee Titans was any indication on Sunday, it appears as if the New England Patriots may already be working on phasing out wide receiver Wes Welker as the team prepares to see what life may look without No. 83 next season.
We all know the background when it comes to Welker and the Patriots. The receiver is unhappy with his contract status and the franchise tag designation, and he spoke out against it this past offseason. That is a no-no when it comes to the Patriots. While they will never say it publicly, that will generally spell the end for a player with the Patriots.
When you add in the fact that the Patriots not only signed Brandon Lloyd this offseason, as well as the fact that they are expecting big things out of him as he is reunited with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, and this could be the lowest production Welker has in years.
Look at the facts and stats from yesterday alone. We all know that the top two options for Tom Brady are his newly re-signed big tight ends in Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, who put up almost equal numbers in the win over the Titans. Gronkowski caught 6 balls for 60 yards and a touchdown. Hernandez caught 6 balls for 59 yards and a touchdown.
In fact, they were the only Patriots to score a touchdown through the air. Lloyd had 5 catches for 69 yards to also help lead the way.
Before I get to Welker’s pedestrian numbers, I need to mention the play of Stevan Ridley.
The second year running back helped carry the Patriots to a big win, rushing the ball 21 times for 125 yards and a touchdown and also reeling in a pair of passes for 27 yards. In this new offense, it appears as if the Patriots are finally going to run the ball a bit more to keep defenses honest.
And if yesterday was any indication, it will be a smart plan.
Now, onto Welker. He caught a meager 3 passes for an even more measly 14 yards. Aside from that, he played in just 43 of the team’s 67 plays on offense.
That is a far cry from the 89 plus percentage of plays that Welker was in on last season in New England.
I know what many may be saying. It was just one game. Yes, I understand that it was just one game, and that anything can change on a weekly basis in the NFL.
Just don’t be surprised if Welker finishes fourth on the Patriots in receiving this season.
I certainly will not be.