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Talent Gap Looms Large Between Welker and Branch On Receiving Depth Chart for Pats

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  1. PatsFans.com Article

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    The Talent Gap Looms Large Between Welker and Branch On the Receiving Depth Chart for the Patriots
    By: Ian Logue

    When it comes to the wide receiver position, the Patriots are suddenly finding themselves in potentially tough shape heading into next season....

  2. MoLewisrocks

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    Re: The Talent Gap Looms Large Between Welker and Branch On the Receiving Depth Chart

    Your never going to field those three receivers and our two TE's, except maybe in fantasy. And then even as I understand it you won't have either of those QB's throwing to them or any defense to speak of... As it is the Giants probably won't be able to hold on to all three this season.

    Branch wasn't a problem. The problem was Ocho was a failure. Had he performed at all Branch would not have been on the field most of the time because there was no viable alternative. What they need is that viable alternative, and perhaps/ideally another in the pipeline if that first alternative comes in the form of a veteran FA. Doesn't have to be a stud. Just not a dud. And the rookie if added should have nearly as high a floor as he does a perceived ceiling. And some versatility so he can be useful in the return game while he works his way up the offensive depth chart.

    Lloyd would seem to be the ideal veteran target, since they tried to trade for him even after the season began when they realized Ocho was lost in space. Unfortunately as much as players want to be where they will most likely suceed, they also want a lot of money as his signing on with Condon may underscore. Branch should be back because they know what they can count on from him and it's not nothing. Ocho better be gone and he needs to be the last of the binky's...unless maybe Ed Reed gets cut some day.
  3. mgteich

    mgteich PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Re: The Talent Gap Looms Large Between Welker and Branch On the Receiving Depth Chart

    Belichick knows better than we how much Branch and Ochocinco have left in the tank. My gut says that neither will be on our starting Game 1 roster. Branch had a reasonable season, but seems ready to retire as a patriot.
  4. Deus Irae

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    Re: The Talent Gap Looms Large Between Welker and Branch On the Receiving Depth Chart

    Branch wants to retire as a member of Patriots
  5. mgteich

    mgteich PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Re: The Talent Gap Looms Large Between Welker and Branch On the Receiving Depth Chart

    Yup.

    Branch will either retire or come back to patriots for another year.

    I'd be fine with Branch coming back. I suppose that he could slip to #3 WR (#5 receiving target). He could certainly be expected to have better production than Ochocinco did last year.

    i suppose the bottom for me is that I would be fine with re-signing both Welker and Branch in the next month. That would have us going into free agency looking for a #2 wide receiver.

    Last edited: Feb 14, 2012
  6. PatsFan2

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    Re: The Talent Gap Looms Large Between Welker and Branch On the Receiving Depth Chart

    Deion Branch will be this years honorary Tranining camp retiree...goodbye and good riddens.
  7. Ivan

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    Re: The Talent Gap Looms Large Between Welker and Branch On the Receiving Depth Chart


    Yep, "good riddance," Branch deserves that kind of treatment.
  8. PATSYLICIOUS

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    Re: The Talent Gap Looms Large Between Welker and Branch On the Receiving Depth Chart

    How can anybody not be satisfied with Branch's production [700 yards, 5 tds] this year? You need your 4th option to have 1000 yards too? He clearly still has something to offer as a 4th/5th option. If he's willing to sign cheap I'd definitely like a short term deal and bring in Lloyd.
  9. MaineMan

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    Re: The Talent Gap Looms Large Between Welker and Branch On the Receiving Depth Chart

    So, Brady threw 67% of his 612 passes this season to Welker, Gronk and Ahern - who were catching them at a combined rate of about 72% and who scored 33 of 39 receiving TDs - only because there wasn't a viable alternative?

    For comparison, here are the catch rates of some of the top WRs in the league for 2011:

    61% Calvin Johnson
    71% Jordy Nelson
    64% Cruz
    63% Wallace
    75% Colston
    61% Malcolm Floyd
    68% Laurent Robinson
    57% Nicks
    57% AJ Green
    52% Fitzgerald
    66% Jennings
    61% Dez Bryant
    52% V-Jax
    61% Steve Smith (CAR)
    71% Lance Moore
    58% Marshall
    69% James Jones
    56% Roddy White
    56% Antonio Brown
    67% Meacham
    66% Maclin
    54% Boldin
    48% Brandon Lloyd

    Not many guys on this list catching at 70%+, much less THREE of them on the same team.

    Branch finished the season at 57%, but was catching at a rate of 65% up through Week-11, or thereabouts, when his percentage of Brady's targets to him began to dwindle fairly quickly. "He's old; he wore down; he wasn't getting open," seems a pretty lazy way to analyze this result, since some other things changed as well. For one thing, Branch didn't appear to be, going over the middle as much - his routes weren't taking him there, but actually seemed to be keeping him outside the numbers and even deep a higher percentage of the time (more difficult, lower-percentage completions anyway). And, as others have observed, defenses began pressing him (and Ocho) at the line more often. Also, he WAS getting open on some of his shorter sideline routes (as was Ocho, when he got into games), but Brady wasn't going to him - um, possibly because he was having so much success throwing to the three amigos over the middle.

    As far as Ocho is concerned, he's not the only accomplished veteran to have been slow to fit into the passing attack during the BB/Brady Era. In fact, his 2011 stats put him in the top 30% of first season production among ALL three dozen or so wide receivers that BB has acquired since 2000 (UFA or draftee) and was greater than even what Jabar Gaffney produced in HIS first season with the Pats. Again, Ocho was the FIFTH guy down the passing target depth chart behind 3 guys who were catching at 70%+, plus an old favorite Brady target in Branch. I mean, I don't understand why folks were expecting Ocho to somehow set the field on fire, the way things played out over the season with Brady's top three targets. Was Brady going to go away from guys catching 70%+? Was he going to throw the ball even more than 611 times? What's going to happen in 2012 if Ocho is replaced on the by some new hotshot WR (with less experience practicing in the Pats offense than Ocho has under his belt now)? Really, how "good" does this new guy have to be to take targets away from the 70-percenters? Or is everybody just figuring that Brady will throw even more?
  10. Ian

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    Re: The Talent Gap Looms Large Between Welker and Branch On the Receiving Depth Chart

    The point of the article wasn't to bash Branch. My purpose behind the piece was to point out that should any of their major parts of the offense get injured (ie: Welker, Hernandez, or Gronkowski) they don't have enough talent receiver-wise for Tom Brady to have additional reliable options to throw the ball to. Especially against a really good defense.

    My mention of Branch was primarily to point out that as we saw at the end of that game, it's asking a lot of him to need him to be their "go-to" guy down the stretch behind Welker. We saw some key injuries for the Giants in that game, yet Manning had additional options to fall back on who are arguably better than Slater and Edelman. If the Patriots had two additional players (not necessarily top tier - but more than two really good special teams guys) for Brady to throw to that game may have gone differently.

    That's more or less where I was going, and you basically made my point. They don't necessarily need guys to take targets away from the 70 percenters, but if one (or more) of the 70 percenters gets hurt, they're too thin at that position to make up for that production. As I wrote, we saw this in '09 (Welker), '10 (Hernandez), and '11 (Gronkowski). And each time it's hurt them because they just don't have guys good enough to fall back on. Gronkowksi was responsible for 30% of their postseason offensive production this year. When he went down, they didn't have anyone else who could help make up the difference once New York started keying on Welker and Hernandez in the second half of that football game.

    If you read it, you'll see I said that at this stage of his career they need to let Branch be what he should be, and that's a guy who can win a few match-ups here and there and give Brady another option. But should they lose one of their better players (again, Welker, Hernandez, or Gronkowski), there's no real #2 or #3 guy on that receiving depth chart who can pick up the slack and it makes things tougher for him to just be what he is.

    They have enough good special teams guys. They could use a couple of mid tier guys who can at least give them more production and really help them out if they're dealing with an injury. As it stands right now, Edelman's an O.K. 3 or 4, but Slater's not a good long-term answer either. Obviously Ochocinco was supposed to be more than he was, but I definitely feel like they need to be better between the top and the bottom of that line-up. Because they didn't have the extra guy they really needed when it counted two weeks ago.

    You can make the argument that for the sake of the Super Bowl, they were in decent shape all season long. Unfortunately that was the game they needed, and they were one mid to upper tier guy away from potentially being better matched against the Giants. Manning had that and Brady didn't, and all I'm saying is it would be nice to see that happen next season.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2012
  11. robbomango

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    Re: The Talent Gap Looms Large Between Welker and Branch On the Receiving Depth Chart

    I was comparing offensive receiving production between the pats and the other top 7 other offenses. I listed 3 below. Pretty amazing what brady accomplished given the lack of depth at WR, our backfield was the least productive out of the 7 by a long shot. Can't wait to see what McDaniels cooks up for this O .

    Pats
    1. WR Welker........122
    2. TE Gronkowski....90
    3. TE Hernandez.....79
    4. WR Branch.........51
    5. RB Woodhead.....18
    6. WR Oucho...........15
    Saints
    1. TE Graham.........99
    2. RB Sproles.........86
    3. WR M Colston.....80
    4. WR Moore..........52
    5. RB Thomas........50
    6. WR Meachem.....40
    7. WR Henderson...32
    Packers
    1. WR Nelson........68
    2. WR Jennings......67
    3. TE Finley..........55
    4. WR Jones.........38
    5. WR Driver........37
    6. RB Starks.........29
    7. WR Cobb..........25
    8. RB Grant..........19
    Chargers
    1. TE Gates..........64
    2. WR Jackson ......60
    3. FB Tolbert........54
    4. RB Mathews......50
    5. WR M Floyd ......43
    6. TER McMichael..30
    7. WR Crayton......23
    8. WR V Brown.....19
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2012
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