The Denver Broncos have not ruled Wes Welker out for week one versus the Indianapolis Colts but for the moment, let’s assume he misses at least a game or two. If you subjected yourself to sports talk radio on Monday, then you all ready know the season is over. For the record, I listened for five minutes before moving onto something more productive.
Don’t get me wrong, the loss of Welker for any amount of time hurts but it’s far from devastating as some would have you believe. This is a team that lost three of their top five players in Ryan Clady, Von Miller and Chris Harris Jr. last season, and still won the AFC.
The Broncos have numerous options going forward without Welker; here are a few.
- Jacob Tamme: Lining Tamme up in the slot is probably the move that makes the most sense. He did it last season when Welker missed time at the end of the season, and was productive. Tamme has a long-term relationship with Peyton Manning and knows the offense inside and out. Tamme being in the lineup would also give the Broncos the flexibility to run a two tight-end offense which would be conducive to running the football more. Tamme does not have the quickness of a Welker but his size and ability to run would provide other matchup problems for a defense.
- Emmanuel Sanders: Sanders played in the slot when he was with the Pittsburgh Steelers and could easily slide inside. In that scenario, Andre Caldwell would start on the outside and rookie Cody Latimer would see more time in four wide receiver sets. The Broncos would be very productive with this lineup, but moving Sanders inside is not a good idea. He provides the Broncos with a deep threat on the outside and that’s something that was missing last season. Moving Sanders to the slot would nullify that threat.
- Combination: My guess is Tamme plays a majority of the snaps in the slot position but the Broncos will use a bunch of different looks in the absence of Welker. That’s the advantage of having so many weapons. On one play, you may see Demaryius Thomas and Sanders on the outside with Tamme in the slot. On the next play, the Broncos may kick Sanders inside and play Caldwell or Latimer on the outside. If they want to run the ball, the Broncos could bring Tamme in and go with a two tight-end offense. Offensive coordinator Adam Gase has proven that he knows what to do with weapons and he has plenty to work with.
No one is discounting the importance of Welker and he does bring a unique dimension to the offense, but the Broncos are equipped to deal with injuries. They did it all of last season and they will do it again now.