clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Is Peyton Manning responsible for Wes Welker's concussions?

New, comments

Ever since Wes Welker was concussed yesterday, I've seen comments and questions pop up concerning Manning and the throw. He has now suffered three concussions as a Denver Bronco over the course of about 24 games. Is Manning leading Welker into trouble?

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Part of discussion is already tainted by Patriot fans who have already jumped to the conclusion that Welker was never put into harms way by Brady.  These "Mass-holes" as I call them are Brady lapdogs that like to discredit Peyton Manning (or Eli for that matter) whenever they get an opportunity.  It's written into their DNA, Brady good, Manning(s) bad.  Problem is some of that stupidity has permeated the professional ranks to a prominent Patriots beat writer who penned this heaping pile of garbage:

Manning is a genius pre-snap. But post-snap, you have to wonder how he doesn't see the potential for disaster unfolding on some of his throws. Or maybe he does and the fact he delivers the ball with less velocity than every other quarterback in the league is the problem. A quarterback who rips the ball to an open receiver gives him a chance to get out of harm's way. Manning delivers some flutterballs.

When Welker signed with Denver and people asked me how he'd do, I told more than a few that Manning would get him hurt. Welker needed to be handled with care and Brady did that for six seasons.

From there the article devolves into blaming Welker's agents for his departure in what sadly takes on the tone of a lover scorned.  I find the selectiveness of clips used as well as the dismissive nature of his explanations in regards to Brady throws that have put Welker into harm's way highly entertaining.

Now that you kind of know where some of this noise is coming from, let's take an objective view at the plays Wes Welker has been concussed as a Bronco.

Concussion 1

This happened against the Chiefs.  Wes takes a flat route, pivots back to the inside and gets sandwiched by lineman Allen Bailey and safety Eric Berry.

Welker_concussion_1_view_1_medium

On the alternate view you can see Wes being hit in the back of the head by Bailey and driven forward into a charging Berry.  His head then hits the turf will quite a bit of momentum as Bailey and Berry land on top.

Welker_concussion_1_view_2

This was an unfortunate accident in the open field.  Nothing about the trajectory or direction of the pass from Manning has anything to do with the way Wes is tackled.

Concussion 2

This was several weeks later against the Titans.  Wes sits down in front of a zone.  He leaves his feet to make the catch.

Welker_concussion_2_view_2

Welker_concussion_2_view_1

This play is more borderline, but what causes the contact to the head is Wes leaving his feet.  Didn't need to do that. He gives up complete control over his body.  The defender is a bit dirty as well as he connects with a forearm shot to the helmet.  Was completely unnecessary.

It doesn't appear as if Manning hesitated or led Wes too much into the defender.  He's not placing the ball high and so far out ahead that Wes is doomed for a blindside hit.

Scott Kacsmar had this take:

Concussion 3

This is the first throw where I wish Manning would have gone somewhere else.  In fact he has the RB wide open in the flat.

Welker_concussion_3_view_1_medium

Welker_concussion_3_view_2

Welker is running a crosser.  Swearinger reads the play and the crossing action over the middle and is there as soon as Welker brings in the catch.  The ball is well placed--Welker has time to bring it to his body before being hit.  He didn't have to extend to make the catch.  The final act that puts Welker in harm's way is how he ducks his head at the last moment to brace for the impact.  Still a ball that Peyton would probably like to have back.

So what did we learn from all of this? Peyton Manning bad?  Not exactly.  Manning will have to be careful with Welker when he comes back, but make no mistake--Peyton Manning isn't causing the concussions.  It's Welker's frame and job description.  The Swearinger hit is completely clean.  He leads with his shoulder.  As long as Welker makes a living over the middle, he's going to be hit.

It's an unlucky coincidence that Welker has suffered three concussions as a Bronco, but it would be foolish to believe that he never took these kinds of hits as a Patriot. After going back and watching a couple of his games , I found a several instances where the same argument can be made against Tom Brady.

Play 1

Welker_concussion_4_view_1_medium

Brady leads Welker right into the corner playing zone.

Welker_concussion_4_view_2_medium

Play 2

Welker_concussion_5_view_1_medium

Welker_concussion_5_view_2_medium

Brady stares down Welker guiding the only deep safety to his seam route.  Ball is placed behind Welker on top of it. Do you notice a trend here?  This looks like Pollard led with his shoulder.  Even when defenders lead with their shoulder, they are nailing Wes right in the head.

LOOK AT WHAT A JERK BRADY IS PUTTING HIS PAL IN HARM'S WAY!!!  Lazy argument is lazy and it works both ways if that's what you're interested in accomplishing.

Concussions up thus far

This article from Forbes states that concussions are up by 50% this preseason when compared to last preseason.

Welker's injury means there have been at least 61* concussions in the NFL preseason as of August 24, 2014, according to the @NFLConcussions Twitter feed.

The surge in reported concussions doesn't reflect a change in the game. Instead, chalk it up to a rise in concussion awareness: NFL players and teams are more conscious of head injuries, and local media coverage has gotten better, too.

The scary thing for Wes, and has nothing to do with Brady or Manning, is that he has suffered many more concussions in his career than have been reported or diagnosed.  As they are defined now, it wouldn't surprise me if Wes has suffered a multitude of concussions during his tenure as an NFL slot receiver.  In both Brady plays above, Wes gets up and plays the rest of the game.  How many times do you think that's happened in his career?

As long as Wes plays, he risks

It doesn't matter if each ball that gets thrown to Wes is delivered with pin-point accuracy.  Wes' small frame and job description will always leave open the possibility of a vicious hit.  In this small sample size, we have seen evidence that even when defenders lead with a shoulder, they are delivering significant contact to Welker's head.

Something New England did more than Denver is they used him more frequently as an outside receiver.  It's how the offense was designed.  Part of it was to create mismatches, part of it was due to the lack of talent at the receiver position.  In Denver we have capable outside receivers so Wes makes his bones between the numbers. There's more traffic between the numbers and a higher likelihood of an impact hit.

While it is true there are QB's out there that put their receivers in harms way, Manning is not one of them.  He is one of the most accurate passers in NFL history.  It is completely biased and flat out wrong to place the blame of Welker's concussion issues at his feet.

Take a bow Massholes--you've taken idiocy to the next level.

Get well soon Wes!