|ESPN.com: BlogsColumns||[Print without images]|
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- If you wanted to sum up what Wes Welker means to the New England Patriots' high-powered offense, look no further than 616.
Because 616 is the number of receiving yards Welker has in just four games this season, on 40 catches. Add in five touchdown receptions from Tom Brady and you have some impressive numbers.
"They're crazy," New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis said. "Tom's stats are crazy, too. Those guys are having incredible years."
|How much will Wes Welker and Darrelle Revis see of each other on Sunday?|
So how will the Jets contain Welker on Sunday in Foxborough? This is how coach Rex Ryan approached the possibility of Revis, the Jets' best player, covering Welker:
"We have [a plan] but that doesn't mean I have to tell you or anybody else," Ryan said Wednesday in a conference call with Boston media. "Whoever we put him on, he'll cover. If that's [Deion] Branch, if it's Welker, if it's [Chad] Ochocinco, or Randy Vataha -- it doesn't matter, he'll cover them."
Ryan was more forthcoming Thursday, saying, "Clearly, I'm sure Darrelle will get an opportunity to cover him."
Revis, selected to the past three Pro Bowls, is impressed by Welker's season.
"It seems on film he always gives defenses problems all the time," Revis said. "It's him and Tom. [They] have a one-two punch with each other, have great chemistry. They work well together. He's got 40 catches already, over 600 yards, so [he is] Tom's go-to guy. He's always looking for him. He's tough in the slot. He's probably the toughest receiver to cover in the slot."
Ryan notes that Welker doesn't stay put in one spot, but moves around when he can, acting more like an outside receiver at times.
"A lot of that is dictated by the coverage they're seeing," Ryan said. "They were seeing a lot of cover two this past week and Welker kept beating them on seven routes and different things. They're really smart, they identify the defense, they adjust routes based on your coverage, based on your leverage."
It can be tricky to react to on the fly, though hours of film study have given Revis some sense of how to respond.
"If you're inside, he's breaking outside," Revis said. "If you're outside, he's breaking inside. He does a great job of that. When you watch him and Tom play, it's like, 'If I break this way, throw it outside, if I break that way, throw it inside, away from the defender.'
"You always see him catching the ball away from defenders. They're very smart how they work together and how they break Cover 1s and man coverage."
In the first of three matchups between the Jets and Patriots in 2010, Welker had six catches for 38 yards and a touchdown. Later, when the Patriots beat the Jets 45-3, Welker had seven catches for 80 yards and a touchdown. He caught another seven passes for 57 in a playoff loss to the Jets.
The Patriots have added another layer since then.
"A lot of times you think of Welker as doing all the dirty jobs underneath," Ryan said. "Pivots, option routes, drives, all that kind of stuff, which he still runs. But he's also running vertically."
Shut down Welker and force the Patriots and Brady to go to Plan B. Sounds easy, but it's the job Ryan's defense is tasked with on Sunday.
"They're so good at reading coverage, reading leverage and Welker is so competitive," Ryan said. "And Brady, he knows where to look and the kid's open. And he's their number one target."