The slot receiver has become much more widely used in the NFL recently, and it has become one of the most coveted skill positions on offense these days. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to stop the reliable, speedy, and intelligent receivers in the middle of the field who are not afraid to take a hit and are the masters of communication. Defensive coordinators are trying to toss all sorts of different coverage schemes and looks in order to help discourage QBs from tossing it to their favorite receiver between the numbers.
The best slot receiver in the game and maybe the pioneer of the position is Wes Welker, and Tom Brady’s favorite target is having another incredible year. But the New England Patriots now have another dangerous receiver who can play the slot in Julian Edelman, which means double trouble for defenses already tasked with stopping a seemingly mutant tandem at the tight end position in Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski.
Welker is nigh uncoverable, and he has all the qualities of a great slot receiver.
Check out a quote CSNNE’s Tom E. Curran gets from Belichick that talks about the key differences in decision-making when playing the slot as opposed to lining up outside, “The visual communication between those two players is, I think, more difficult. I’m not saying it’s easier outside; there are just more variables inside. Again, especially when you get into option routes and decision making, you’re just going to run five yards and run across the field and that’s fairly straight forward although there is some, ‘Do you go over? Do you go under? Do you slow down? Do you speed up? Do you stop? Do you throttle? What are your rules? What tells you to do what?’ Most importantly, it has to be exactly what the quarterback thinks you’re going to do so you don’t go behind the linebacker when he thinks you’re going in front of him and it’s a bad interception, that kind of thing. I think there’s a lot to that, yeah. I think it takes a lot to play that position.”
It really does take a lot to play in the slot, and it takes at least as much skill in order to stop top slot receivers like Wes Welker. It’s a good thing Kyle Arrington has gotten back on track with two strong games back-to-back, so the Patriots can feel more comfortable about their nickel corner (another coveted position now) stopping the opponent’s slot receiver. The Pats will be going up against a good one this week in Davone Bess.
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