Point-Counterpoint on Welker

Hey, Cult here, follow me @CultOfBelichick on Twitter. This post is in response to Mike's post yesterday  and his comment that he "fully expect[s] Welker to play his normal compliment of snaps in Week 2." I have to take a disagreeing viewpoint on this. Before I came on here at nepatriotslife.com, I had my own little blog, and on there, one of my predictions for this season was less of Welker this year. My reasoning behind this was the emergence of the third TE in the offense. I think this is something they are going to be incorporating more and more of throughout the season, especially once Daniel Fells gets healthy. In a 3TE set, you are more likely to keep Lloyd on the field than Welker as you want that outside presence. So, just based on that I knew he would see the field less than the 89% of snaps that he did last year.

However, what I didn't expect was Julian Edelman getting so many reps (24) on offense. I think the coaching staff got pissed at Welker when he let that ball hit him in the head and put him on the bench. Edelman has closed the gap to the point where the coaching staff feels that he can go out on the field and give them close to what Welker is. So, they now have the ability to sit Wes down and bring in Edelman if they need to, which is something they have not had in the past.

Another point as to why Welker is not going to receive as many reps: rest. This sounds like a cop-out, but honestly, he is a 31 year old slot receiver, and that sounds like someone you want to limit the amount of times he gets crushed over the middle. This kind of goes to what Mike was saying and that maybe they were just limiting his reps for that week. However, I think this is a trend you are likely to see throughout the season to preserve him for the postseason. Again, Edelmen's progress in camp (he and Hernandez were supposedly untackleable in 1-on-1s) has made this possible.

One last way to rationalize those snaps for Edelman is this: Bill Belichick believes he has EARNED some snaps on offense. As I was saying, Edelman looked shifty in camp, and spent the entire offseason in California working with Brady. This did not go overlooked by the coaching staff, and shows in his grasp of the offense and his development as a receiver. I think the coaching staff appreciates this, and believes that Edelman has put in the work, and showed results on the practice field sufficient enough to earn him a few snaps on offense per game. If someone has earned snaps, the coaching staff is going to want to play them, so that the rest of the locker room knows that if you put in work off the field, and translate it onto the practice field, you will be rewarded.

Anyway, we will of course continue to monitor this, but I think the snap count that you saw for Welker this last week (around 65%) is going to be around what you will see all season. However, just because his snaps are down, it doesn't mean "they are trying to screw him over," or "they are trying to ruin his value." These are the most asinine lines of thinking currently out there. The Patriots are limiting his snaps because they believe it is in the best interest of the team, and that is it. No more, no less. If there is one thing I do not believe Bill Belichick is, it is vindictive. He is not going to go out of his way to harm a player, financially or physically, especially not one like Wes Welker that he has a great amount of respect for. The biggest thing for Belichick in the entire world is respect, and he is not going to sit someone because he wants to decrease their open market value and ruin that respect level he has gained from his players.