The shoes were always too big to fill; nonetheless, New England needed more out of its new slot receiver.
There were clues that New England was looking to acquire Danny Amendola from the St. Louis Rams even before Wes Welker departed for Denver, suggesting that the team was expecting to make a transition at the slot position and had begun to plan accordingly.
The team had seen Amendola’s game tape and knew his injury history.
The sentiment heading into the season was that if Amendola could stay healthy (which, at the time, was considered a big “if”), he could be a younger, faster Welker with an immediate impact on the offense and a high ceiling for growth.
Amendola did stay healthier than expected, missing only four games, but he was not nearly as valuable to the offense as the team needed him to be.
That’s not entirely fair to Amendola. His regular season output came close to matching his best two seasons with St. Louis, and he averaged 4.5 receptions per game over the 12 games in which he played, with an impressive 11.7 average yards per reception.
But Amendola only recorded five or more receptions in four of those games, and 235 of his season-total 633 receiving yards came in two games—Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills and Week 15 against the Miami Dolphins—in each of which he recorded ten receptions.
By far, his most efficient game was the Week 9 matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers, in which he gained 122 yards on just four receptions along with his season-long catch of 57 yards and a touchdown.
Amendola only caught two touchdowns all season, with his second coming against the Cleveland Browns in Week 14.
Amendola did tear his groin muscle completely off the bone in the second quarter of the Week 1 game yet still played for the second half of the game. He seems to have yet to return to full strength, and though his production fell off toward the end of the season, he continued to develop his relationship with Tom Brady, who was quick to praise Amendola and call his inaugural season with the team a success.
Amendola might do well to follow Julian Edelman’s lead and move next door to Brady in California so the three can play catch throughout the year—the strategy paid off phenomenally for Edelman.