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Thursday, December 12, 2019

Wade Phillips says Wes Welker is not ‘real athletic,’ then backs off with tweet

If New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker was searching for a bit of added motivation before Sunday afternoon’s playoff game, Houston Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips may have given it to him. Media outlets are always looking for ways to stir the pot and boost ratings, so you can understand why the comments Phillips made about Welker on Thursday were immediately labeled “bulletin board material.”

When asked if Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph, who covered Cincinnati Bengals receiver A.J. Green last weekend, would cover Welker on Sunday, Phillips gave the following response.

“Ah, Welker’s not Green,” he told Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com. “He’s a good player, but he’s not that big or a real athletic guy. He’s a quick guy that gets open on option. Harris actually played him pretty good. He got a holding penalty that hurt us early in the game. But Harris played pretty well… If we don’t get him on a speed guy, we’re in good shape.”

In reality, Phillips was simply stating the obvious. Welker isn’t a particularly fast receiver and his specialty isn’t abusing corners in one-on-one coverage in the way someone like Green would. He relies on intelligence and a knack for finding holes in zone coverage, so Joseph might be more effective covering a downfield threat like Brandon Lloyd. Nevertheless, Phillips’ comments created a buzz that prompted him to praise Welker on Twitter.

If Welker and the Patriots want to use the comments as motivation, more power to them. That being said, Phillips was just talking football. The fact that he said Welker isn’t Green and implied Joseph won’t be covering him doesn’t mean he considers the Patriots slot receiver to be any less of a threat to his defense.

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