NFL Week 2: Is Bill Belichick vs. Wes Welker Conflict Hurting New England?

Adam WaksmanCorrespondent IIISeptember 17, 2012

FOXBORO, MA - AUGUST 9:   Wes Welker #83 of the New England Patriots watches from the sidelines during a preseason game against the Orleans Saints in the first half at Gillette Stadium on August 9, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

To quote former NFL head coach Herm Edwards, "You play to win the game!"

But which game? Edwards meant the game at hand. But do some coaches think more about the future and less about the present?

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is often mysterious with the media. It is hard to know what his motivations and goals exactly are. Owner Robert Kraft and the Patriots are sometimes painted as a loyal organization. There have been times in the past, however, when they have been extremely ruthless with their players.

During the Week 2 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, it was hard not to wonder if Belichick was trying to intentionally kill wide receiver Wes Welker's season.

Welker is on a franchise tag this year and is playing for much less than his market value. If he has a good season, he will likely leave New England unless he does not care about money. Despite the fact that he is by far the Patriots' best receiver, Welker did not start in Week 2. Instead, the start went to the very unproven Julian Edelman, who has a grand total of one career receiving touchdown.

Welker sat for a significant number of snaps and watched the New England offense fizzle and sputter. In spite of his limited playing time, Welker was the Patriots' leading receiver with five catches for 95 yards. He also happens to have been quarterback Tom Brady's favorite and most productive target over the past three seasons.

Belichick is not an idiot and clearly must know that he hurt his team by benching Welker. It would be fair to say that he cost his team the game, given how close the result was (20-18). 

Is it possible that Belichick is trying to ruin Welker's season so that he can re-sign him at low cost for next year? It may sound far-fetched, but there are few other plausible explanations.

We will have to keep an eye on Welker's playing time in the coming weeks. If he continues to play at the highest level and continues to spend time on the bench, this situation will become stranger and stranger.


Adam Waksman is a featured columnist for the Bleacher Report New York Jets community. Be sure to follow Adam on Twitter to receive updates right away.