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By the Numbers: Welker and Amendola

They were the moves that nobody saw coming, but in hindsight made sense to everyone.

Wes Welker no longer a Patriot as he signs a two-year, $12m deal with the Denver Broncos. Danny Amendola his replacement on a five-year, $31m contract. Patriots fans are questioning the decision, while others are defending it.

For us? Well, we’re all about how this will impact the production on the field so let’s do a comparison between the two.

Playing Time

The first striking difference between the two is just how much they’re on the field. As the table below shows, Welker (whose numbers also include playoff games) doesn’t miss much time. Amendola? Well he’s missed 22 games since 2009.

[table id=793 /]

Of course we can’t predict what the future holds for either man in regards to staying healthy. Amendola might go onto enjoy Welker-type longevity, while age itself might catch up with the new Bronco receiver who finds himself unable to get anywhere near that high snap percentage.

Feature Factor

So what about production? Obviously there are outside factors involved in this with Welker having Tom Brady throwing to him, and Amendola having Sam Bradford. That’s significant, but it’s also important how often they were targeted relative to how much they were on the field. As it shows here:

[table id=794 /]

Certainly in the last three years comparable, with the gap between the two very noticeable in 2012. When Amendola was on the field in 2012 he was more likely to see the ball thrown to him than Welker was.


So what about their actual production? Despite comparable target percentages, Welker is considerably more productive in terms of picking up yards per route run as the table below shows.

[table id=795 /]

Some of this may be down to the quarterbacks in play. 80.3 percent of the balls thrown to Welker have been catchable, while that number is at 74.9 percent for Amendola. You’d expect Amendola to get a little boost playing with the more accurate Brady as opposed to Bradford for sure.

Slotting In

One of the bigger differences is in their usage. Amendola hasn’t been nearly as prolific a receiver from the slot as Welker as the table below shows.

[table id=796 /]

Some might say this bodes well for Amendola adding another dimension to the Patriots offense, but he’s run a higher percentage of his routes from the slot (85.3) than the 73.8 percent Welker has since 2009. And while much is made of him possibly offering a vertical threat the numbers don’t back that up.

[table id=797 /]

Some of this will have to do with the quarterbacks willingness to attack downfield but with Tom Brady going deep (further than 20 yards in the air) on 13.2 percent of attempts and Sam Bradford at 13.1 in 2012, that difference is negligible, with Welker having an average depth of target on throws 7.6 yards last year and Amendola 7.9.

Obviously a receiver going to a different team doesn’t mean you can just copy across his production and paste it over — but there are some striking similarities between Welker and Amendola. It goes beyond them being short and shifty slot receivers, to how they’ve been used and it’s why it’s logical to think the Patriots are hoping this move sees them get younger at a vital spot of their offense.

That said, given how important Wes Welker has been to the team, he’s going to be hard to replace. I for one am interested to see how both men perform next year.


Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled

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