|Wes Welker didn't see much action against the Titans on Sunday. (US Presswire)|
Looking at Welker's snap count from the Sunday's season-opening win over the Titans, there isn't much room for alternative interpretation. He was on the field less than 65 percent of the time, well down from the 89 percent he averaged last season, leading many analysts to speculate that Welker is being phased out of the offense much like Randy Moss was in 2010.
Like many others, we were guilty of initially giving credence to this line of thinking. Now, after going back to the tape and re-watching all of the offensive plays from Sunday, we want to set the record straight.
Obviously, there's a lot of plays where Welker isn't on the field, but it wasn't as bad as the numbers suggest. Here are a few things we picked up from the review:
- Welker was on the sidelines for 24 plays. Of those, 14 were runs, two were goal-line plays, and one was a knee. That means there were only seven passing plays where he wasn't on the field. He lost the second series of the game to Edelman (four plays) and also stayed sidelined for the final five plays, all of which were runs. Take the latter series away and Welker's snap count creeps back up around 70 percent.
- There's a misconception that Julian Edelman was in a rotation with Welker and took 23 snaps from him. That's wrong. The two were on the field together on a number of plays. The real person taking snaps from Welker was Aaron Hernandez, who split out wide on 22 plays, including a number of what would have been two-receiver sets.
- It was a little bit surprising that Welker was only targeted five times, but Rob Gronkowski (six) and Hernandez (seven) didn't see many passes come their way either. Tom Brady only dropped back to pass 31 times. If you want to blame someone for taking away opportunities from Welker, blame Stevan Ridley and the running backs for carrying the ball 35 times.
- Final thought: Welker may be on a one-year deal, but it seems ridiculous to suggest that NEw England is preparing for the future by becoming less dependent on him now. The Patriots only care about winning and they have a better chance of doing that with Welker on the field. As long as he is here and under contract, Bill Belichick is going to use him.