The last time the San Diego Chargers faced the Denver Broncos, the Bolts’ defense got a bit of a break. They didn’t have to worry about Wes Welker in the slot.
Welker’s absence was evident. Losing “Mr. Third Down” was part of the reason the Broncos went 2-for-9 on third down in their 27-20 loss.
“The main thing is they played us a certain way because we didn’t have him, I think,” Demaryius Thomas said of Welker’s absence. “With him back, I think they’ll try to switch it up.”
Welker has 73 receptions for 778 yards and 10 touchdowns in his first year as a Bronco. That’s through just 13 games due to sitting out the last three games of the season after suffering two concussions in 22 days.
“Any time you get a guy of Wes’ caliber back, it’s really going to be to our advantage,” offensive coordinator Adam Gase said. “And just to see his energy, the way that he plays, the way that he practices out here, other guys feed off that. And a guy that—he’s 32 years old, you can see that he’s hungry, he wants to be in this position.”
Welker doesn’t just bring the receptions. He brings experience. He brings playoff poise. He brings sure hands on critical downs, which is exactly what the Broncos need to advance.
Having Welker back in the lineup forces the Chargers to change up their defense compared to the last time they played. When Welker was playing in the November game, he only had 3 catches for 21 yards. However, that allowed Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas to combine for 10 receptions for 204 yards and four touchdowns.
Welker changes defensive schemes and he makes the no huddle more effective with his precise route running.
Welker makes Manning better. There aren’t too many players who can stake that claim.
Now, if he can just protect his head.