Examining How Wes Welker Will Impact Denver Broncos' Offense
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The dynamic slot receiver was signed on Wednesday, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com:
Wes Welker lands a two-year, $12 million deal from the Broncos. Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Wes Welker. Have fun, Peyton.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 13, 2013
Last year, the Broncos did field one impressive aerial attack. Manning completed 68.6 percent of his passes and Denver averaged 30.1 points per game (ranked No. 2 behind the New England Patriots).
Welker is certainly capable of becoming the common denominator here.
In addition, Manning was sacked just 21 times in 2012, and Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker combined for 2,498 yards on 179 receptions and 23 touchdowns. Obviously, this receiving duo bolted up the ranks and into one of the best pro football has to offer.
Now combine the threat of Thomas and Decker on the outside with Welker's potential impact from the slot.
It's straight up ridiculous.
Welker led pro football last year with 619 yards after the catch. This area alone will force a secondary to roll a safety down and isolate Welker just behind the linebackers. The downside is leaving a lone safety back deep to read Manning and then react to Thomas and Decker.
This won't be easy since each is capable of defeating man coverage at a solid rate.
Therefore, an opponent will have to play the odds given the down and distance. Bracketing Welker leaves vulnerabilities deep, but sitting in a Cover 2 and showing man-to-man underneath allows for more space at the intermediate level.
Factor in Welker catching 118 of his 174 targets, and that 67.8 reception rate nearly matches Manning's completion percentage.
John Elway also stated the following in an article by Pat Graham of the Associated Press via Yahoo! Sports:
''When you look at Wes in the middle of the field, you can't cover him,'' Elway said. ''He does such a tremendous job of getting open, finding seams in zones, beating man-to-man coverage. So, he'll be a huge asset for us inside.''
So, anytime a defense resorts to Cover 2 or 3, expect Welker to split zones and move the chains.
Which team will have the best passing game in 2013?
This then transitions into a competitive advantage inside the red zone as well. Last season, the Broncos sported a 60.87 red-zone touchdown percentage, ranked sixth in the league. Ahead at No. 3 were the Patriots at 67.5.
Featuring the complete receiving corps to move the ball and keep a defense honest, Welker's final area of impact complements the running game. Denver ranked No. 16 in rushing last season, so it clearly needs to improve that dimension of the offense.
His presence will simply widen linebackers and prevent opponents from blitzing consistently or stacking the box. Lanes will then extend as a result, and the Broncos can field an effective ground game when needed.
The ultimate result will be a fusion of high-powered efficiency and balance.
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