Monday, August 24, 2015

Wayne To New England - Nice Depth Or Forewarning Of Dark Times?

Well, Patriots' fans have gotten their wish.

After years of rumor and innuendo involving long-time Indianapolis Colts' receiver Reggie Wayne, the six-time Pro Bowl selection and former first-team All Pro was signed to a one year contract by the New England Patriots on Monday afternoon, causing adults to run amok waiving the Patriots' colors and young children all around New England to jabber with joy...
Wayne and Belichick has mutual respect for one another

...and causing some in Indianapolis to question not just head ball coach Bill Belichick's motivation in signing the all-time leader in games played for the Colts, but also to question Wayne's motivation, some in the Indianapolis media stooping so low as to call him a traitor.

I have my questions about where he fits in the offense and what he does or does not have left in his tank, but the simple fact of the matter is that motivations don't mean anything - all that does matter is that the Indianapolis Colts did not want him back after giving the team the best 14 years of his life thus far, so neither the team nor their media have the right to question the motivation of anyone in this scenario...

...particularly not Greg Doyle, who along with Ron Borges is one of the preeminent muckrakers and Belichick haters in the national media - their motivation clear at all times.

But the euphoria surrounding Wayne's signing notwithstanding, the real question is what dark circumstance made the signing possible, yea, even necessary?

Conventional wisdom dictates that when a team like New England needs a depth receiver, they normally look for youth, someone whose mind hasn't been convoluted and clustered by the ways and means of others in the profession - so it comes as curious that Patriots' head ball coach Bill Belichick would jump on the Reggie Wayne bandwagon unless he has serious concern about the health of his current kennel of young greyhounds.

And as it turns out, he did have some serious concerns, because just as soon as the team announced the signing of Wayne on Monday afternoon, they made a series of roster moves that included placing receivers Brandon Gibson and Brian Tyms on the Injured reserved list, ending their seasons before they ever got started.

Wayne is 37 years old, coming off triceps surgery in February and still dealing with knee problems stemming from a torn ACL last offseason.

The ACL is what it is - a common injury that saps range of motion and perhaps some suddenness, which is bad enough for a receiver, but the real concern is the triceps injury, a partial tear that not only destroyed Wayne's 2014 season, but also required offseason surgery to repair.

Ironically, it was in the regular season game against the Patriots last season that it is reported that he suffered the tear after terrorizing New England's secondary with 5 catches for 91 yards, and it was abundantly clear that the injury made him a liability in the Colts offense the rest of the season.

Halfway through his 2014 season and making a full return from the ACL that ended his 2013 season early, Wayne had already collected 47 catches for 595 yards in 10 games played, which under normal circumstances would have drawn out to 75 receptions for 952 yards on the season - but after tearing the triceps muscle, he was limited to just 17 catches in six games for 184 yards, with 80 of those yards on a fluke play on the final day of the regular season.

Tearing a triceps muscle is that limiting, that painful and, fortunately, a rare occurance - so limiting and painful in fact, that Wayne should not have even been playing. The same sort of injury cost former Ravens tough guy linebacker Ray Lewis an entire season, so there is a toughness curve that Wayne broached in order to give his all to the Colts - but unfortunately, the Colts didn't seem to appreciate the effort.

For the uninitiated, the triceps is the muscle on the back part of the arm and is primarily responsible for extending and straightening the elbow and forearm. A tear is generally referring to a separation of the tendon that holds the muscle to the bone, an injury that causes searing pain with any movement and can prevent the afflicted individual from performing such menial tasks as pushing oneself up from a seated position.

Recovery time from surgery to recovering full range of motion stands at right around a full year - and right now Wayne is sitting on half of that time, hence the concern.

There are other concerns that probably motivated Belichick to bring Wayne in for a physical, with which he would have had to perform unimpeded and without limitation before being offered a contract - two of those concerns surrounding receivers taken in the 2013 draft class in Josh Boyce and Aaron Dobson.

Boyce is likely headed to the practice squad again and Dobson's health has always been a major concern - plus there is the injury status of Julian Edelman and Brandon LaFell, leaving only (ironically) Danny Amendola and a handful of undrafted rookies to take snaps in the last two preseason games.

It has been reported, however, that Edelman, Dobson and LaFell are being held out of the preseason for precautionary reasons and will be ready for the regular season - and if this is truly the case a depth chart featuring those three, Wayne, one of the undrafted rookies (Harper, most likely) to go along with the twin towers at tight end in the persons of Gronkowski and Chandler will have an excellent mixture of veteran guile, youthful exuberance and wonderful chemistry.

Of course, that looks pretty good on paper, but the real test comes when they all lace up their cleats and hit the playing field, and if Wayne can come anywhere close to the numbers he was putting up last season before he tore the triceps, Belichick will have once again proven that another team's trash is truly his team's treasure.

No matter what Doyle thinks.


  1. Furthest thing from a patriot fan but a traitor? If you don't know by know that the players go with the best offer either blind or naive. Jason Taylor even played with hated jeylts for a year. If Patriots paid him they'd still have revis

  2. Greg Doyle started that whole traitor thing, I think it's ridiculous and stated so in the article. The Patriots let Vince Wilfork, Brandon Browner and Revis walk, along with Shane Vereen. No one that I know of are calling them traitors for signing with other teams, just the way the business is!