I don’t care what anyone says about Jerry Rice, Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, or Cris Carter. Wes Welker is the greatest receiver of all time. Welker is on pace to finish with over 2300 yards receiving, which is basically 500 more than Rice’s record setting mark from 1995. Think how much pressure that can weigh on a player every week? In addition, Welker is leading the world with 65 targets this season, outpacing other receivers by a wide margin. Amazingly Welker is on the back end of an astonishing 33% of Tom Brady’s passes this season. Personally I’m not sure how he handles all of those looks. One would figure he would get tired from all that attention from his quarterback and carrying the team’s offense on his back. He’s carrying the offense so much that with just 109 yards “Slot Machine” will eclipse his yardage total from all of last year (he played 15 games). Tom Brady is on pace for 6200 passing yards this year, significantly exceeding Dan Marino’s mark of 5084, as the Patriots pass on nearly 60% of their offensive plays. Considering that New England employs the no huddle quite a bit, Welker always has to be on the field. He never gets a chance to rest and catch his breath like Rice, Moss, and Owens did. Those guys also played on teams that huddled after every play and had a more even run/pass ratio. Their offensive burden was so much less stressful than Welker’s.
In 2005 the NFL pledged to strictly enforce rules that disallowed defenders from touching receivers at any point that is beyond 5 yards from the line of scrimmage. This was unfortunate for Welker because he started his NFL career in 2005. What receiver doesn’t like a little contact in the middle of their route? Since Welker doesn’t get pushed and shoved while running through the middle of the field he doesn’t have the opportunity to adjust his route because of contact like the receivers from the 80s and 90s. I’m sure Brady has to continually adjust his timing to account for a free release and maneuver by his ace wide receiver. What’s more, Wes can’t display his physicality with the cornerbacks; he rarely gets to do damage throwing around his 5’9 185 lbs frame. It’s almost unfair that a receiver who does most of his damage in the middle of the field at medium depth doesn’t get the elbow in the ribs while crossing the hash marks like in days of old. Now Welker has to worry about navigating the coverage to find the soft spot in the zone instead of being afraid to go over the middle and get leveled. The man’s a football player, not a rocket scientist! The rule changes during the 2010 season were completely made to derail Welker’s career. Referees are instructed to call personal fouls when defenders hit defenseless receivers attempting to make a catch. Do people not realize Welker’s biggest strength is his toughness? Without the fear of getting smashed by a linebacker or safety, #83 can roam through the middle of the field with impunity. That negates all the chances for Welker to get smoked by a bigger guy and display how stout he is. Frankly I’m dismayed that being less than six feet tall and less than 200 lbs Slot Machine can now make a living only going over the middle. He doesn’t even get the option of using his breakaway speed, length, and leaping ability. The NFL should be sad for not allowing Wes to display the diversity in his game.
Rice, Moss, Owens, Carter, Tim Brown, Andre Reed, etc, lived such charmed lives. They had the luxury of playing most or all of their careers and putting up ridiculous stats prior to these inane rule changes that clearly constrain Welker’s ability. Through hard work, determination, and will power Welker is still able to shine in a league that allows men of his skill set to run through the middle of a defense completely unmolested. The NFL has turned into a real life version of the video game series Madden, and Wes Welker proves that he is the greatest of all time by somehow finding a way to succeed despite being handcuffed by this unfortunate circumstance.