Patriots

Welker ready if Jets send Revis his way

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Welker ready if Jets send Revis his way

By Phil Perry
CSNNE.com

FOXBORO -- Wes Welker isn't sure what the Jets will do to stop him, but if they choose to try to strand him on Revis Island, he'll be ready for it.

Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis has been a shutdown corner once again this season, allowing just three completions on passes thrown his way in the Jets' first four games. He's proven to be a menace to big-play threats, but he's done a good job of stopping slot receivers -- like Welker -- in the past as well.

"He brings a lot of challenges," Welker said Friday. "He's a great cornerback. Been around for a long time. He's very patient and he's physical, a smart player. He's definitely going to present some problems for us."

Welker said that the Patriots have film of about 600 snaps between this season and last season where Revis covered a slot receiver.

"It's not anything different from what they do," Welker said. "We'll see how it plays out and see how the game goes. You gotta be ready for everything, no matter what they bring."

Count Deion Branch among those who would rather see Revis lined up across from someone, anyone, but himself.

"I'd be glad if he's on anybody except me," Branch said with a laugh. "That'd be good. I think overall coach Rex Ryan is gonna do a great job of scheming certain things, when he does, we gotta adjust. There's a lot of different things we will see, I do know that. Every play could be different."

The Jets have a habit of taking away an offense's best weapon, and for the Patriots, that's been Welker. In four games this season he has 40 catches for 615 yards and five touchdowns. Last season, the Jets blanketed Welker with bracket coverage and the Patriots struggled in their 28-21 playoff loss. This year it could be the same plan, or the Jets could sick Revis on him.

"Teams have different ways of trying to take certain players away," Bill Belichick said. "Whether it's double coverage, or jamming him, or zone, whatever it is. I think Wes has had a good year. He's certainly ahead of where he was physically at the beginning of last season (when he was nine months removed from knee surgery)."

And though he's physically fine now, with all the work he's received through the season's first month, he's taken a beating. Welker has withstood it to this point, and he joked that his good health might be partly due to his new sleep schedule.

"I moved down here closer to the stadium, so I actually cut out about an hour out of my day where I've been able to rest a little more," Welker said. "Maybe those hours are kind of adding up to more rest for myself."

Belichick said he thinks his best receiver's production has come as a result of coverages, not necessarily because of any lifestyle changes Welker has made.

"I don't think he's running routes differently or eating more broccoli or anything like that," Belichick said. "Sometimes it just kind of happens."

The Patriots wouldn't mind if it could just kind of happen against the Jets, but if Revis has his say, they may need to find another go-to guy.

Follow Phil on Twitter at @PhilAPerry.

Tom Brady on pace for huge numbers, so why is he down on his play of late?

Tom Brady on pace for huge numbers, so why is he down on his play of late?

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady is on pace for 5,224 yards passing in 2017, just a shade under his total from his career-high in 2011. He's on track to have 34 touchdowns and just five picks. Barring a continued run of ridiculous efficiency from Kansas City's Alex Smith, those numbers would be MVP-caliber in all likelihood.

But Brady's not thrilled with the way he's played of late. What gives? 

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In his past two games, he hasn't thrown the football as consistently as he would have liked. After starting the season with a 10-to-0 touchdown-to-interception ratio, he's 3-to-2 in the last couple of weeks. His accuracy has been at times pinpoint (as it was on his 42-yard completion to Brandin Cooks to help set up a Rob Gronkowski score against the Jets), but it has also been uncharacteristically erratic.

He was picked deep down the middle of the field by Buster Skrine last week, but the more concerning throw may have been the quick out-route to Gronkowski that Skrine dropped for what should have been an easy interception. Brady missed Phillip Dorsett on what looked like it could have been a long touchdown with Dorsett running free behind the defense. He threw behind Chris Hogan twice in the game, one of which opened up Hogan to a rib-shot that landed him on the injury report this week.

Against the Jets, Brady was not sacked and he was hit only four times -- a light day for him compared to other weeks this season when he's been battered. Yet he still completed just under 53 percent of his passes for 257 yards and a season-low 6.76 yards per attempt. 

"Well, I've got to hit the open . . . If the throws are there I've got to be able to make them," he said on Friday. "It's disappointing when I don't. To me, it just comes back to technique and fundamentals and making sure everything is working and that's the consistent daily thing that you're working on. I'm always working on my accuracy.

"I wish I hit them all. I'm capable of hitting them all and I need to be able to do that. I said last week that some of these games wouldn't be as close if I was playing better in the red area. I think some of those missed opportunities in the pass game with me hitting guys would really help our team. Hopefully, I can do a better job for this team."

Brady is no longer listed on the Patriots injury report, but he dealt with a left shoulder injury against both the Bucs and the Jets, and it's worth wondering if that somehow impacted how his passes traveled in those games. Balance is key in Brady's world, and even though he can make flat-footed throws look easy, perhaps an injury to his front side limited his ability to place the ball where he wanted. 

Keeping Brady upright could go a long way in helping the 40-year-old regain his form from Weeks 2-4 when he didn't dip below a 104 quarterback rating. Bill Belichick said earlier this week that part of the reason the Jets pass-rush wasn't quite as effective as others they'd faced this year was his team's ability to run the ball. Productive rushing attempts on first and second down mean manageable third downs, which mean shorter pass attempts. Those of course, in theory, lead to less time standing in the pocket and a healthier quarterback.

"It's great," Brady said of his team's recent surge running the football. "I mean, to be able to run the ball consistently in the NFL is important for every offense. It does take a lot of . . . I wouldn't say pressure, it's just production. If 400 yards of offense is what you're looking for and you can get 150 from your running game, the 250 has got to come in the passing game. If you're getting 50 yards in the rushing game then it means you've got to throw for more.

"I don't think it's pressure it's just overall you're going to get production in different areas and the backs are a big part of our offense and handing the ball off to them is an easy way for us to gain yards if we're all coordinated and doing the right thing. But those guys are running hard. The line is doing a great job up front finishing blocks and so forth."

Against the Falcons and their talented -- though underperforming -- offense this weekend, the running game could be key. First, it could help the Patriots defense by controlling possession and keeping Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman off the field. Next are the obvious advantages for the signal-caller who could use a stress-free day in the pocket to help him solve his recent accuracy issues. 

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