AFC coaches talk Patriots

PHOENIX — Talked to a few opposing coaches today about the Patriots, Wes Welker, and some other players.

Colts coach Chuck Pagano, on former Patriots guard Donald Thomas, who was signed by Indianapolis: “An explosive player. Run blocking, very effective. Pass [protection], does a great job in pass pro. He’s got position flexibility, he’s played both the right and left guard position. We’re going to start him on the left side. He has snapped [at center] before. There’s a lot of qualities that Donald brings to the table that obviously help our offensive line.”


Chargers coach Mike McCoy, on running back Danny Woodhead: “I think he can play on all downs for us. We’re looking to acquire as much talent as we can as a football team, and I think, having worked with Josh McDaniels before in Denver, and knowing the system they run, there will be things that we’ll do that are very similar. So the things he can do in the running game, in the passing game, being able to play on third down, create some mismatches on guys, use his speed and quickness to help get open and separate vs. man to man coverage, there’s a lot of things he can do.”

Wes Welker reaction

Broncos coach John Fox: “I think I mentioned this when we signed Wes. This game is about matchups, and depending on what matchups you get defensively. One of
the reasons we went a lot of what we call 12-personnel was if they go to nickel or put a DB in to cover one of those tight ends, all of a sudden they’ve gotten smaller, so there are some advantages there in the run game. Everybody does this. Now, if they sub base, then it’s a matchup you like in the passing game.


“You do the same thing with the three-wide sets, we call it 11-personnel. What do they have against you? How are they going to match up defensively? A lot of it is how the defense matches up. Having had to defend Wes for so many years, you learn to appreciate how tough a matchup he is. It’s hard to have one guy cover him.

“I think just having played defense against him so many times, he’s definitely a tough matchup. I’m not fortunate enough to be able to put a single guy on him, so there have always been little things that help in coverage. I think that can help other guys, receivers on the field, whether it is Demaryius Thomas or Eric Decker.”

Fox, on Peyton Manning’s reaction to adding Welker: “Oh yeah, he’s excited. It’s tough for him a little bit because he’s good buddies with Stoke [WR Brandon Stokley], and Stoke did a real good job for us. It’s back to those relationships — players build them, too. They’ve got good buddies. A lot of times, moving in this league can be tough. That was the downside. But I think everybody is pretty excited.”

Jets coach Rex Ryan on the Patriots bringing in Danny Amendola: “He’s very similar to Wes Welker. I’m glad Wes is not there. I’m not kidding you. That guy was a pain in the tail and just a great player. Durable, tough. I hated Wes Welker. I’m just kidding — kinda.


“You know what? I admire him. There is no question about it. In fact, I’m a huge fan of Wes Welker’s, and I am glad he’s not there anymore. Now they bring in this other kid from the same school, and clearly Wes has worked with him based on the way he runs routes and all that type of stuff. So he’ll step right in. I don’t think there’s any doubt. Will he have the same success as Wes Welker? I don’t know, because Wes Welker had historical success. So we’ll see. That’s some big shoes to fill.

Ryan on Welker: “He’s amazing. He’s an unbelievable route runner. He doesn’t run but maybe five routes, but you just can’t cover him. Him and Brady were on the same page. That’s why it was like, ‘Throw it to somebody else!’ One game he caught, like, 15 balls against us and I totally got ripped for it but we tried everything.

“But he’s so talented, and just a great route runner. He’s tough. He’s like a running back when he catches the football. Brady and him were on the same page all the time. Wes Welker is a much better athlete than they give him credit for. I think he’s a great athlete. My son’s bigger than him, although I don’t think he’s got the same ability. That’s what’s really underrated about Welker. Maybe it’s because he wears that big helmet and all that other jazz, but the guy’s a tremendous player.”

Pagano, former Ravens defensive coordinator, on Welker: “He’s a difference maker. He’s one of those that, from a defensive perspective, once you turn the tape on and you start talking to your defense when they come in on Wednesday and you’re getting ready to play and defend the guy, he’s a guy we’ve got to take care of. He’s been a tremendous player for a number of years and very, very productive.

“They’ve done a great job up there of bringing guys in. As you know, in the NFL nowadays, guys come and go, and that’s just the nature of the beast. I know they probably hate to lose him, but he’s definitely a guy that can be a matchup nightmare for you in the slot because he’s just a very, very competitive guy and he’s got a unique skill set playing that position. We’ve got Denver and we’ve got them at home. So we’re going to have issues trying to game-plan him and trying to keep him under control.”

On how the Patriots will adjust: “They’ve got a system in place and it’s been in place for a long, long time and we’ve seen from Troy Brown to Wes to now Danny, they’ll slide him in there, saw [Julian] Edelman play in there, I’ve seen a bunch of guys play in that position and so knowing Danny, I think it will be a seamless transition for them just because they’ve got a system in place and he’ll go in there. I’m sure he’s a smart guy and he’ll pick it up and he’ll learn it and probably won’t miss a beat.”

McCoy, a former Broncos offensive coordinator, on how Welker will fit into his old offense: “He’ll do a great job. He was obviously very productive in New England with Tom. He’s going to another great quarterback. There aren’t many guys like him that are that lucky to play with two of the best of all time. I think there’s a great system there that Adam Gase is going to continue to run with Peyton and they’ll take advantage of what Wes does.”

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