As all Patriots fans should know, New England traded a fourth round pick to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for CB Aqib Talib. Talib, although very talented in man coverage, has a troubled history off the field. Bill Belichick doesn’t care, though. The Patriots needed him and he couldn’t have come at a better time. Anyone watching the game against the Buffalo Bills last week should have been frustrated by our complete absence of defense. Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick had a great game until his game-ending interception by Devin McCourty. After the monster game he had, I’d be terrified to watch the Pats play Andrew Luck and the Colts this coming Sunday if they didn’t have Talib.
Even though he has only been able to practice with the Patriots for a week due to his four game suspension, he should be immediately utilized on Sunday. There are no downsides to having him on the field even though he isn’t completely acclimated with the defensive schemes. Can the defense possibly look worse than last week? Doubtful. So the Pats should line him up one-on-one against Luck’s favorite target, Reggie Wayne. How strong is the Luck-Wayne connection? Luck has targeted Wayne on over 30% of his passes. That’s behind Jay Cutler-to-Brandon Marshall and Matt Cassel-to-Dwayne Bowe for the third highest in the league. He has thrown to Wayne a league-high of 106 times this season. With all of that said, locking up Wayne is essential for a win.
Talib hasn’t played in over 4 weeks and I’m sure he’s anxious to hit the field and make some plays. What better way to introduce himself to his new fan-base by shutting down Reggie Wayne? With rookie TE Coby Fleener already ruled out of Sunday’s game, isolating Wayne will force Luck to throw to his less competent receivers. These are the receivers that rookie CB Alfonzo Dennard and the frequently-burned Kyle Arrington can cover.
Hopefully Talib’s presence will bring a much-needed swagger to this defense that will carry them back into the Super Bowl.