Hard to compare pivots: Welker
ENGLEWOOD, Colo.—He traded Picasso for Michelangelo. Or maybe it was the other way around.
While John Elway famously said he had no Plan ‘B’ when he signed Peyton Manning in 2012, Wes Welker certainly had one when the New England Patriots low-balled him on a contract offer last winter.
After spending six seasons as Tom Brady’s top target in New England, Welker was Manning’s leading receiver before missing the final month of the season with a concussion.
He still finished with 73 receptions for 778 yards and a career-best 10 TDs, and added another in Denver’s 24-17 win over San Diego in the AFC divisional round last weekend.
After an unhappy homecoming at Foxborough in November, when his blunder on a punt in the wind led to a 34-31 loss to New England, Welker gets another chance to stick it to his old team Sunday when the Broncos and Patriots square off with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.
Welker has been asked ever since his arrival in Denver to compare the two QBs with Hall-of-Fame credentials—something he finds harder to do than to go across the middle with a menacing middle linebacker bearing down on him.
“It’s like comparing Picasso and Michelangelo,” he remarked. “It’s hard to compare the two.”
Welker isn’t sure if he’s a Michelangelo guy or a Picasso guy, either.
“I couldn’t even tell you,” he confessed, revealing he’s less an art aficionado than he is a connoisseur of quarterbacks.
“Somebody threw those names at me one time and I thought it sounded pretty good.”
What sounded good to Manning was having Welker in the slot this season to team with Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker on the outside and emerging tight end Julius Thomas to ensure one of them always would be single-covered—or even wide open.
Along with rejuvenated running back Knowshon Moreno, all four caught 60 or more passes and reached the end zone at least 10 times apiece.
While Brady’s done a masterful job of getting the Patriots to a third-straight AFC title game despite having a new cast of ball-catchers, Patriots’ safety Steve Gregory said the Broncos’ embarrassment of riches at receiver is evident when, at times, Welker becomes Manning’s fourth or even fifth option.
“Yeah, it’s impressive. You know, Decker, Thomas—the two Thomases—and then Wes,” he noted.
“We know what Wes is,” Gregory added. “Wes is a great receiver. He does a heck of a job in the slot and they have spots they move him around to.
“So we’re going to have to be on top of our ‘A’ game.”
Welker, of course, was asked again this week about the differences between Brady and Manning—admittedly the only other quarterback he wanted to play for after being spoiled by all those spirals from 2007-12.
“I’ll try and answer this and be as indifferent as possible,” he remarked.
“There aren’t too many differences. They are great quarterbacks. They do a great job of keeping guys accountable, and their leadership skills and everything else.
“They are two guys you want quarterbacking your team,” Welker added.
“It’s a toss-up between those two.”
The Broncos are sure glad they’ll have Welker on their side Sunday.
“He’s tough because he’s talented,” said cornerback Champ Bailey. “He’s quick. He’s fast. He’s aggressive. He blocks well.
“I mean, there’s not a part of his game that he’s weak at,” Bailey added.
“I’m very, very aware of that playing him over the years.”