On Monday, we made mention of the sharp decline in playing time for Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker.
There wasn’t any health reason for Welker to see about 25 percent less snaps than he saw on average last season, leading us to wonder if this was a sign of an overall shift in the Patriots’ offense or just a result of their specific game plan for the Titans. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels got asked that question during a Tuesday conference call and said it was the latter.
“We kind of decide those on a week-to-week basis. Certainly Wes had some opportunities in the game and made the most on a few of those. Then we had some other opportunities we didn’t quite hit,” McDaniels said. “Wes’ role is the same as we’ve always gone. We’ll go each week and try to do what we think is best to help us win. Sometimes that may include playing more multiple tight ends. Sometimes it might be playing a lot more receivers. We kind of try to feel that out as we go through our preparation and then make the decisions that go along with it.”
It’s something we’ve seen for years from the Patriots backfield, but it hasn’t been quite as big a part of the team’s approach to their receiving corps. Extending that thought process makes sense given the deeper pool of receiving targets than the Patriots have had in some recent years.
Having said that, Welker’s never really been a player who saw his role determined by the game plan since guys who catch more than a hundred balls have to be on the field almost all the time to pull that off. There are plenty of weeks left in the season and it will be interesting to see how Welker’s used in them.