Wes Welker: Efficiency Juggernaut

T.AAnalyst INovember 24, 2009

FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 18:  Wes Welker #83 of the New England Patriots carries the ball in for a touchdown in the second quarter against the Tennessee Titans on October 18, 2009 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

It’s seems in today’s day and age that the media flocks to prima-donna players. Using the boorish behavior of these players to fill articles with their atrocious analysis of football.

How many articles have we all read elucidating Terrell Owens’ destruction of team locker rooms? Now how many times have we read an article focused on Terrell Owens habit of dropping footballs throughout his career?

How many times have we heard a football analyst whether it be ESPN or NFL Network question JaMarcus Russell’s lack of work ethic? But we’ve rarely seen these same analyst break down game film or specific plays and show us what exactly JaMarcus has been doing wrong. We rarely see these analyst compare the routes that JaMarcus’ receivers runs to routes of some of the top-tier receivers in the NFL.

The NFL’s lack of quality media coverage, or even lack of quality statistics that the average fan could examine have left football fans to be some of the most ignorant fans in sports.

The media has been so focused on highlighting Terrell Owens lack of production in Buffalo, Chad Ochocinco's off-field antics (some even on-field), the NFL’s “lack of parity” that they’ve been completely oblivious to one of the most productive and efficient season by a wide receiver this decade.

Wes Welker has quietly been the most efficient receiver in the NFL this season. But yet, you rarely hear analyst dissect his fabulous season.

Welker hasn’t put up a lot of touchdowns to the likes of Randy Moss, Reggie Wayne, or Larry Fitzgerald, but Wes has been more efficient and productive (when he’s been on the field) than every one of them.

Despite missing two games this year Welker is leading the league in receptions with 79 grabs. His next closest competitor, Reggie Wayne, took two extra games to catch 76 footballs.

No receiver has caught more passes in their first eight games than Wes Welker has. Ever ! His next closest competitor? Marvin Harrison, who had 69 catches his first eight games in 2002.

Welker is on pace for 138 reception, I don’t think it’s far-fetched to think that had he been able to play 16 games this year that he would have had a very good chance of breaking Marvin Harrison’s single-season record for receptions. Keep in mind this is a record many analysts think will never be broken.

Despite being ranked fourth in targets among receivers Welker has caught 79 percent of the passes thrown his way, among receivers targeted more than 80 times this year, Welker’s 79 percent catch percentage leads the entire league.

Welker is fifth in the league in receiving yards and leads the NFL in yards per game (106.8).

Welker ranks 10th in the Football Outsiders' DVOA efficiency rankings. Now keep in mind that Welker has been targeted significantly more times than all the receivers ranked ahead of him in terms of DVOA.

Welker ranks fourth in the league in terms of the Football Outsiders' DYAR production rankings. Welker and New Orleans Saints receiver Marques Coltson are the only receivers to be ranked in the top-10 for both DYAR and DVOA.

A lot could be made of Randy Moss taking away double coverage and that is why Welker has been able to catch so many passes. However, this misconception is meant to belittle Welker’s production.

Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, Wes Welker, and Randy Moss have all explained in many interviews and conference calls that teams tend to double cover Wes Welker on third down and around the goal line. Need examples? In Super Bowl XLII when Randy Moss caught his fourth quarter touchdown a safety and linebacker were double covering Welker in the slot, this left Moss one-on-one with the cornerback.

The NFL Network has an outstanding show called Playbook. The show’s host Sterling Sharpe, Mike Moyock, and Brian Billick examine game film. In one of the shows they examined Randy Moss’ 71 yard TD catch against he Miami Dolphins. Moss and Welker both ran crossing routes and the safety had to commit to either Moss or Welker, the safety chose the latter, and this left Moss one-on-one with the CB.

Moss and Welker both help each other out, and the misconception that Moss is the sole reason why Welker gets all his catches is very skewed.

Welker could very well break the record for catch percentage with over 130 targets, if he hasn’t already in the last two seasons. But the media will never tell you that.

It’s a shame that Welker might very well be snubbed for the Pro Bowl this year, even though he is putting up one of the best receiving season in recent memory.