Fins to the left, fins to the right, Welker in end zone (USP)
Remember all that Wes Welker marginalization bunk we heard in a few areas during September? That was a fun 15 minutes.
Sunday's first 20 minutes and change in Miami basically turned into the Welker Show, as the heady slot receiver went off against the questionable Dolphins defensive plan. Miami had this this crazy idea that somehow it can cover Welker with a linebacker, perhaps Karlos Dansby. That's a gift to the Patriots.
Welker snapped up nine of his first 12 targets, totaling 82 yards. The ninth grab was a seven-yard score, poorly defended by the opponents ("Like stealing," according to radio veteran Gil Santos). Good work if you can get it. (And as we're composing this post, Welker is up to 10-89. It's already been a fun day for No. 83.)
I generally don't put much stock in player-team history unless we're talking about in-division rivals. With that in mind, Welker's resume against Miami is worth noting. Have a look at the carnage on the grid below.
You could say Welker is abusing the Dolphins like they owe him money, but he's also playing for a new contract (maybe from the Pats, maybe from someone else in free agency). So he's got plenty of motivation. Have yourself a day, Patriot. You're paying some serious freight for us in PPR leagues.
Miami's top receiver thus far is Brian Hartline; he's caught three of four targets for 34 yards. But the missed attempt was the killer: Hartline was wide open for what should have been an easy 49-yard touchdown (the Patriots had a miscommunication in coverage), but Ryan Tannehill missed on the throw. So it goes. Tannehill to Brady — Boys to Men.
Final Tale of The Tape: Welker logs a 12-103-1 day on 18 targets. Hartline snags five for 84, off 10 targets. At least Hartline made an appearance; teammate Davone Bess managed just one grab off six targets.
Both teams have notable challenges next week: Miami heads to San Francisco (good luck with that), while the Patriots host Houston on Monday night.