FOXBORO, Mass. — The Patriots’ offense misses Wes Welker. Or does it?
There was much debate after New England chose to let Welker walk and sign Danny Amendola instead whether the team made the right choice. Amendola was the younger option, while Welker was the more-dependable player who already knew the system.
Amendola signed for five years and $28.5 million with $10 million guaranteed, while Welker signed for two years and $12 million, all of which was guaranteed. New England also signed Julian Edelman to a one-year, $765,000 contract with no guaranteed money. Edelman was perhaps the best bargain of the offseason.
Due to Amendola’s missed time, thanks to a groin injury and concussion, a direct comparison between Welker and his replacement would not be fair. But when Edelman is added into the mix, the Patriots are actually getting better production out of the slot than the Broncos with Welker.
Check out the chart below to compare Edelman, Amendola, Edelman plus Amendola, Welker this season and Welker’s 2013 stats divided into 10 games.
Combined, Edelman and Amendola have more receptions, targets and yards out of the slot than Welker. Their catch percentage is just .2 points below Welker’s. Welker averages more yards per catch out of the slot and in total routes. Compared to Welker in 2012, Amendola and Edelman are ahead of the pace in receptions, but No. 83 had more yards and a higher catch percentage.
Edelman and Amendola’s total stats (not just out of the slot) are shockingly on pace with Welker from last year. Welker caught a higher percentage of balls thrown his way and had more yards per reception, but Amendola and Edelman have more receptions, targets and just five fewer yards. It helps, of course, that Amendola and Edelman can be on the field at the same time.
The biggest discrepancy this season comes down to scores. Welker has nine this season to Amendola and Edelman’s three. Of course, Peyton Manning also has 34 touchdowns to Tom Brady‘s 14. Welker had six touchdowns last season and two through Week 11.
Obviously something is up with New England’s offense this season, but when the stats are broken down, Welker’s production does not appear to be the missing piece. The Patriots had spells without Rob Gronkowski and Shane Vereen this year and they’re also missing that guy who’s sitting in Bristol County Jail.
There will be many comparisons between Welker and Amendola this week, but Edelman will be the forgotten man. And he shouldn’t be. Edelman has filled in admirably for Amendola and Welker this season. And even with Amendola back, Edelman is still getting his share of snaps.
It’s also a bit ironic that Amendola was supposed to be the player with durability concerns, yet Welker was the one who missed practice on Wednesday and whose status is in question for Sunday night. So if they had to do it all over again, would the Patriots chose Amendola and Edelman over Welker? It’s still too soon to tell, but for now, the Patriots haven’t seen much dropoff out of the slot.