New England Patriots rookie Alfonzo Dennard has been one of the bright spots in the team’s up-and-down (mostly down) secondary since being activated for the first time this year in Week 5. He proceeded to shut down Eric Decker in that game and was only “beat” on one play by tight end Jacob Tamme.
Dennard played a major role against the Seattle Seahawks last week and played in 48 of 57 snaps, per ESPN Boston. The Patriots secondary did suffer a break down last week, but that wasn’t the fault of Dennard.
With Kyle Arrington continuing to struggle this season, it looks like Dennard fully deserves to start in this game on the outside at RCB across from No. 1 corner Devin McCourty. Arrington was benched after getting beat very badly in coverage last week, as Doug Baldwin was able to burn him in the worst way possible twice.
While Arrington should still play some sort of a role switching between the nickel and outside slots in this game, it’s time to give Dennard the start and give the opportunity to a player who has simply been playing at a higher level so far this year. I also think second-year corner Ras-I Dowling deserves a lot more playing time, and he should get significant reps- if not the starting role- against the New York Jets in the nickel.
Sterling Moore is a player with limited upside and more of a playmaking DB than a pure coverage DB, which isn’t something the Pats are lacking in at this point. The Pats need to start guys like Dennard who are coverage corners as opposed to playmaking corners. Against the Jets poor receivers, the Patriots can afford to give the younger guys more playing time and see how they are developing. Moore has limited upside at this point and is a poor coverage player anyway.
Dennard isn’t an obvious start, but he’s the best option for the Pats at right corner. Arrington needs to have the chance to bounce out of the slump, but “a chance” isn’t synonymous with “starting”, because that means continuing to start a player who isn’t getting it done and isn’t the best option at the position at this point in time.
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