Now that current Broncos receiver Wes Welker has sustained his third concussion in his last 10 games played, some are blaming his quarterback for throwing a ball to a player who was caught between a trio of defenders.
Tom Curran of CSNNE.com argues that Peyton Manning “bears some of the burden” for choosing to throw the ball, while feeling no pressure, to an oft-concussed slot receiver with three defensive players poised to apply a hit after the catch. Curran even goes so far as to call the pass a “hospital ball.”
The throw doesn’t compare to the kind of pass that gets a receiver laid out in mid-air or drilled by an unsuspecting forearm or helmet right after the catch is made. This one falls more tidily into the “stuff happens” category, with Welker trying to make the catch and reduce the target size and Texans defensive back D.J. Swearinger hitting Welker in the head with a forearm as Welker tried to get small. (Er.)
A psychologist may say that Manning’s rare display of on-field anger after the next play arose from his own feelings of guilt for getting Welker injured. But that doesn’t mean Manning is guilty. Manning was throwing the ball to the open man, and Welker was open.
The issue here isn’t Manning’s throw. It’s that a veteran slot receiver has a concussion problem. And slot receiver represents one of the few positions where it will be impossible to avoid further blows to the head.
Whether it happened in the third preseason game or Week Seven of the regular season or at some other time, a “next concussion” was inevitable for Welker. Now, the question becomes whether he’ll return to the field and risk sustaining yet another “next concussion.”