Manning and Welker: Perfect Match?

Peyton Manning and Wes Welker have been teammates in the Pro Bowl before, but could be a dangerous combination together when it counts for the Denver Broncos. Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports
NFL: Denver Broncos-OTA
May 30, 2013; Englewood, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) and wide receiver Wes Welker (83) talk during organized team activities at the Broncos training facility. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sport

The relationship between a quarterback and his favorite slot receiver is supposed to be a comfortable one. The nickel shows blitz and the slot receiver is there for a checkdown, the easy completion saving the quarterback a ton of headaches. Peyton Manning has always understood how to utilize his slot receiver, not just as a safety outlet, but as a weapon.

His newest asset in the slot may be his best yet.

Wes Welker has already worked with one of the all-time greats in Tom Brady. He’s eclipsed 110 catches in five of his last six seasons and he’s been one of the most reliable slot receivers in history, if not the most reliable.

Paired with Manning and flanked by Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, the Broncos receiving corps went from being a question heading into 2012 to being a significant strength in 2013, and Manning has to be licking his chops. The last time he had a unit with this much talent was with Reggie Wayne, Marvin Harrison and Brandon Stokley in 2004. In that season, all three receivers surpassed 1,000 yards and added at least 10 touchdowns, while Peyton went on to set an NFL record (since eclipsed by Tom Brady) for single-season touchdown passes.

For Wes Welker, while he’ll undoubtedly be asked to compare and contrast his former quarterback and his new one, the adjustments should be minimal. He’ll have to get used to Peyton’s verbiage and he’ll have to learn to hone in on his own personal cadence at the line of scrimmage. After all, we all know that Peyton loves to change things up at the line. However, he should be utilized in similar fashion as he was in New England.

For Peyton Manning, as has always been the case, it’ll be about developing a chemistry with a new receiver that figures to be a primary piece of his offense. Manning spends more time working with receivers than any other quarterback in the league, and when he develops a bond with somebody it usually leads to a career year.

Ultimately, the Denver Broncos passing attack has the potential to be dynamic in 2013, and the specific relationship between Manning and Welker has the potential to be a special one — to the tune of another 100-catch season for Welker.

That may lead to a slight dropoff in Decker’s and Thomas’ numbers, but should lead to a more productive offense in general, and a huge year from Peyton Manning as he pursues a second championship in hopes of securing his legacy as one of the two best quarterbacks of all-time.

Something about Manning-to-Welker seems right, and it sounds prolific. And while Peyton Manning is in the twilight of his career (though he showed no signs of slowing down last year) and Wes Welker is entering the twilight of his, these two have linked up with the idea of winning a championship in mind.

Welker, although it seems crazy, never won a Super Bowl in New England, and Manning’s lone win in the Big Game came all the way back in 2006. However, if these two can continue to produce the way they have throughout their careers and they get contributions from the rest of Denver’s offense and from Denver’s improved defense, they could finally end their respective droughts.

Wes Welker came to Denver to catch passes from Peyton Manning. How sweet would it be for both if it ended with Manning passing the Lombardi to his new favorite slot man?

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