Little late to the game on this but I had to say my two cents.
Like most Patriots fans I am sad to see Wes Welker leave. Especially sad to see him joining Peyton Manning in Denver. Unlike most Patriots fans - I think this was the right move. How many times last season did you hear in a bar, "Wes Welker normally catches that." The later in the season, and the more often it was said - the less convincing the person felt saying it.
People will, of course, bring up Welker dropping that pass in the Super Bowl but as I said before - that dropped pass didn't cost them the game. Rob Ninkovitch jumping off-sides on third down was a bigger mistake. And Tom Brady's intentional grounding was even bigger than that. Without that safety the Patriots would have been down just by 2 at the end of the game and a field goal could have won the game.
Still - there's no mistaking Welker dropped a lot of passes last year. Last year Welker dropped 11 passes - which was second most in the NFL. Sure he also was targeted a ton but consider that according to ESPN - since 2010 Welker dropped one pass for every 12.5 caught. Amendola's drop rate was one for every 21.9 caught over that same time frame.
Against the Titans in the second game of the season Welker was benched after dropping a pass. Back then the Patriots thought Brandon Lloyd and Julian Edelman could replace Wes' production. Now it seems they are hoping Edelman and Danny Amendola can shoulder the load. The main point is early last year the Patriots recognized the dropped passes problem
Welker's main value is catching the ball. Both Amendola and Edelman can catch the ball too but both also have younger legs which means they can also both run better than the soon to be 32-year old Welker. Bubble screens, a favorite play of the Patriots, gain more yards with younger, fresher legs. Plus there's no yards after catch if the pass is dropped.
Wes Welker will probably put up eye-popping numbers next year. I hope he does. But that doesn't change the fact that the Patriots made the right move.
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