Jets head coach Rex Ryan has sworn not to ever let Welker bury his team like he did late in 2009, when he caught 15 passes for 192 yards in a Patriots victory. Even though Welker hasn’t been a one-man wrecking crew in the three games since, he’s been effective with 20 catches, 175 yards and two touchdowns against the Jets.
There’s been a lot of speculation this week that cornerback Darrelle Revis could draw Welker on Sunday, but the Jets will most likely mix it up with their coverages, as they did in their playoff victory last season. Still, Welker knows he’ll get a healthy dose of the best cornerback in the NFL.
“He brings a lot of challenges,” Welker said. “He’s a great cornerback, been around for a long time, and he’s very patient. He’s physical. He’s a smart player, and he’s definitely going to present some problems for us.”
The Jets did everything in their power to take away the middle of the field in the playoffs, stacking their coverage in the tackle box and even using their defensive ends (including Shaun Ellis) to line up outside of the tackles to narrow Brady’s vision. They baited him to throw it over the middle, and they won that battle.
Brady is always at his best when he’s efficient with his decisions. For that, let’s break down Welker’s 20 receptions (on 23 targets) against the Jets in 2010, and who was covering him on that play.
Week 2 (six receptions, seven targets, 38 yards, one touchdown)
1. Linebacker Bart Scott, 11 yards
2. Safety Dwight Lowery, eight yards
3. Cornerback Antonio Cromartie, six yards, touchdown
4. Cornerback Kyle Wilson, eight yards
5. Cornerback Kyle Wilson, seven yards
6. Cornerback Drew Coleman, negative-two yards (screen play)
Incompletion: Cornerback Darrelle Revis (Welker beat him but dropped the pass as he hit the ground)
Note: It’s important to note that Welker got a lot of single coverage in this game because Randy Moss was still around, but it was Welker’s poorest statistical output against the Jets last season. Also, Welker beat Cromartie clean on an out route when Cromartie was playing the outside position. Cromartie still never put a hand on him. Terrible coverage.
Week 13 (seven receptions, seven targets, 80 yards, one touchdown)
1. Safety Brodney Pool, nine yards
2. Cornerback Antonio Cromartie, 14 yards
3. Linebacker Bart Scott, 14 yards
4. Bracket coverage with safety James Ihedigbo lined up over him, eight yards
5. Zone coverage with cornerback Darrelle Revis lined up over him, six yards
6. Cornerback Drew Coleman, 18 yards, touchdown
7. Cornerback Darrelle Revis, 11 yards (screen play)
Note: Remember, this was a nightmare of a performance from Cromartie. Brady stayed away from Revis all night and just picked on Cromartie, beating him for two touchdowns. Also, Deion Branch had a great block to take Revis out of that screen play.
Playoffs (seven receptions, nine targets, 57 yards, no touchdowns)
1. Cornerback Darrelle Revis, 10 yards
2. Cornerback Antonio Cromartie, seven yards
3. Cornerback Antonio Cromartie, eight yards
4. Cornerback Drew Coleman, nine yards
5. Cornerback Drew Coleman, nine yards
6. Cornerback Drew Coleman, one yard
7. Cornerback Drew Coleman, 13 yards
Incompletion 1: Bracket coverage
Incompletion 2: Cornerback Drew Coleman
Note: Welker was single covered on each of these plays, though there was a free safety roaming that side of the field to help Coleman each time. Brady really didn’t challenge the defense when Welker was swarmed by multiple players.
Here’s a final breakdown of who Welker beat over the course of those three games.
Cornerback Drew Coleman: Six receptions, seven targets, 48 yards, one touchdown
Cornerback Antonio Cromartie: Four receptions, four targets, 35 yards, one touchdown
Linebacker Bart Scott: Two receptions, two targets, 25 yards
Cornerback Darrelle Revis: Two receptions, three targets, 21 yards
Cornerback Kyle Wilson: Two receptions, two targets, 15 yards
Safety Brodney Pool: One reception, one target, nine yards
Safety Dwight Lowery: One reception, one target, eight yards
Bracket coverage: One reception, two targets, eight yards
Zone coverage: One reception, one target, six yards