Wes Welker appears to be still playing ‘at a very high level’
|11.19.13 at 12:43 pm ET|
Upon landing back in New England early Tuesday morning, the Patriots coaching staff immediately turned their focus to the Denver Broncos. And for defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, that means finding ways to deal with a player they know a lot about.
Wes Welker is in his first year with the Broncos after accepting a two-year, $12 million offer to play with Peyton Manning.
Welker hasn’t disappointed. He leads the Broncos with 61 receptions through 10 games. He is averaging 10.6 yards per catch and his nine touchdowns tie him with Demaryius Thomas for second on the team behind the 10 of Julius Thomas.
“Certainly when you see the film, Wes obviously is very productive in their offense and the system, where obviously Peyton Manning does a great job of running the offense, running the system, and getting the ball around to all the receivers,” Patricia said during a conference call Tuesday. “But [you] certainly see Wes do the things that he does well: be able to use his quickness and get open on the shorter and intermediate routes, and [we’ve] also seen him push the vertical also, and get downfield and see some balls that have been thrown downfield to him also.”
Whether Welker actually plays against his former team Sunday night at Gillette is in doubt. Welker went to one knee after taking a big hit in Sunday’s 27-17 win over the Chiefs in Denver. He sustained a concussion after a 20-yard run-and catch in the fourth quarter, a trademark of the receiver during his days in New England.
He is undergoing concussion tests and protocol this week and won’t practice until Friday at the earliest.
“All the good things that he does he appears to still be doing, and doing them at a very high level, so certainly [he] is a huge challenge for us, good player like that when they get him in the slot and be able to try to take advantage of whatever coverages you’re playing against him and allow him to really use some of his quickness to work off leverage and just try to get open,” Patricia said.
Added Bill Belichick, “I think Wes looks like Wes, like the player we’ve seen. Most of the time he lines [up] in the slot and he plays like we’ve all seen him play around here for the time he was here.”
Here is the remainder of Matt Patricia’s conference call from Tuesday:
Q: Peyton Manning has been in Denver for over a year now, but how much can you go back and look at some of the stuff that Peyton Manning was doing in Indianapolis when you talk film study this week?
MP: I think their offense is the offense. I think they do a great job of running the system, so I think certainly you’re going to look at all different avenues that they’ve encompassed within that system, whether it’s Denver, Indianapolis, whatever the case may be. I think they’re just doing a great job, obviously, Adam Gase, the offensive coordinator, working with Peyton out there and has just done a great job of really giving you a variety of different looks, so a little bit different than maybe I would say the Indianapolis program, where [there’s] formationing and motions and different adjustments and looks coming out of their offense. So I would say it has a little bit of a different look from that standpoint, but certainly obviously their players are doing a great job, from the running backs and [Knowshon] Moreno doing an excellent job in the run game and the protection and being able to handle the system, and then obviously [Demaryius] Thomas and [Eric] Decker and [Wes] Welker, and then obviously the tight end too, [Julius] Thomas, who’s doing a great job handling the system and pushing the ball vertical downfield. I think they’re really playing extremely well, and [it’s] a big challenge in store for us this week.
Q: Cam Newton had runs of 24, 15, and 14 yards on third down. What are your thoughts on those plays?
MP: I mean, certainly we go back and we try to evaluate those and take a look at them. Certainly there are things that we’ve got to do better, both coaching and playing, and I obviously have got to do a better job making sure we have everything handled so that the quarterback, no matter what quarterback it is, can’t get out and get those extra yardage on those critical situations. It’s certainly something that we’ve got to try to improve on, and that’s obviously – we’re not going to be happy about those plays, and we’ve got to play them better.
Q: Based on your understanding of the rule book, could defensive holding have been called on that last play last night?
MP: I mean I’m just really right now kind of turning the page, working on Denver. I don’t – that’s the other side of the ball. I’d let the officials do the officiating, that’s not my job. It’s just to coach the players and try to do better at what we’re doing defensively, and certainly obviously we’ve got some improving to do.
Q: Are there any differences this year in the way Peyton Manning is throwing the ball compared to last year?
MP: Obviously I think Peyton Manning just gets better every year. I mean, I think this is an extremely, extremely good, competitive and disciplined – very smart, studies the game extremely well, and does an excellent job preparing week in, week out for his opponent, so I think he just gets better every year. I think he makes smart decisions with the football; whether he throws the ball downfield, short, intermediate, whatever it is, I think he just understands what the defense is, what coverage he’s getting, and puts the ball where he needs to put it. I think that’s what they’ve obviously done a great job of all year, whether [it’s] passing yards per game, total yards, points… I mean obviously they’re tops in the league, so I think he’s doing an excellent job.
Q: What were the keys in your mind for the Broncos on Sunday night to prevent the Chiefs from getting to Manning? Was it a combination of the performance by the offensive line as well as him getting the ball out quickly?
MP: I think you pretty much said it right there. Their offensive line is obviously doing a good job of keeping everybody away from him, and Peyton does an extremely good job of getting rid of the ball, understanding pressure, understanding the rush, understanding coverage and knowing where to go with the ball very quickly, and that’s something he’s really done his whole career. And he moves extremely well in the pocket; I mean, he may not be a scrambling quarterback, but he has good mobility within the pocket to slide and to shuffle and to find the open space and to get the ball released before he gets hit and get it out of his hands. Just a very, very experienced, extremely good quarterback.
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