Part of the potency of the Patriots' passing attack in 2011 was Tom Brady’s ability to spread the wealth to a multitude of receivers, tight ends, and backs. But no Patriot was targeted more than Wes Welker, who led the NFL with 122 catches.
Over four of the last five seasons, Brady and Welker have teamed up to form one of the most productive and lethal passing combinations in all of football. When stacked up against others, the Brady-Welker duo ranks behind just one other NFL quarterback-receiver pairing, according to former Patriot and current NFL Network analyst Willie McGinest.
McGinest recently ran down his top five QB/WR combos, and pegged Brady and Welker second, trailing only the Detroit Lions Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson.
It’s an interesting debate between the two pairings, as all four players enjoyed incredible statistical success in 2011 on top of plenty of wins on the field.
While Welker operates primarily out of the slot, Johnson has developed into perhaps the preeminent perimeter receiver in the game, and the two represent very differing styles from players listed at the same position.
The Lions, who signed Johnson to a lucrative extension this offseason, look to be a franchise that will continue to grow and improve in the coming seasons after reaching the playoffs for the first time since 1999 last year.
EXTRA POINT: For those who appreciate the offseason "rankings" from media members, here's one that could generate some debate -- Vinnie Iyer's breakdown of quarterbacks on SportingNews.com. Tom Brady checks in at No. 3.