Wade Phillips won't put best defender on Wes Welker


New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker has caught 240 passes over the last two seasons, with rare short-area quickness and an insane mental connection with Tom Brady.

But Welker is not a true No. 1 receiver; not one that requires the best opposing cornerback on him. That's Houston Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips' stance, and he's sticking to it.

"Welker's not (A.J.) Green," Phillips told ESPN's Paul Kuharsky when asked if Houston's top corner Johnathan Joseph would track Welker arund the field.

"(Welker's) a good player, but he's not that big or a real athletic guy" Phillips said. "He's a quick guy that gets open on option routes. (Cornerback Brandon) 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 this day and age when folks are stretching to find bulletin board material, the Welker comments are already getting noticed in New England. But it's hard to argue with anything that Phillips says. Welker was held down by Harris last game, and Joseph would be better used on Brandon Lloyd or tight end Aaron Hernandez.

Harrison: Divisional-round picks
Elliot Harrison forecasts each divisional-round bout, with two road teams advancing to Championship Sunday. More ...

"If you put a corner on him, they're not quite as good," Phillips said.

Phillips noted that the Patriots create lots of matchup problems because their two tight ends can act as wide receivers.

"They're athletic enough to play out in space. So that gives you matchup problems. If you play your base defense against them it's one thing, and if you play a sub defense against them it's something else. If you play a sub, what happens a lot of times with the two tight ends is they just run over people," Phillips said.

When you face the Patriots, defenses have to pick their poison. It sounds like Phillips will take his chances, focusing his energy away from Welker.

UPDATE: Phillips later took to Twitter to say more about Welker on Thursday. We love Wade Phillips:

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.