New England Patriots will keep Devin McCourty at safety

Shalise Manza Young has reported that the New England Patriots will keep defensive back Devin McCourty at the safety position for the entire year, per two league sources. McCourty is the Patriots top defensive back, and he has been a monster at the safety position when moved to the back end of the secondary after injuries to Steve Gregory and Patrick Chung. Most Pats fans would agree that McCourty is better at safety than cornerback, but he is certainly a great DB at either position.

With McCourty at safety, that allows Chung to play a more natural role inside the box at strong safety when he returns. Neither Steve Gregory nor Chung are good in deep coverage, with Chung’s coverage skills downfield among the worst in the league among capable starting safeties. He is an excellent player in run support and gives the secondary an edge, but his deep coverage skills are lacking.

A couple of problems arise from playing McCourty at safety, and that is the fact that Kyle Arrington will still be playing. He’s been the worst corner in the NFL this year, and his continued struggles show that this trend will not be stopping any time soon. Hopefully, the Patriots keep him in the slot and stop allowing him to get burned out wide.

The other problem is finding more time for Tavon Wilson, who has emerged as the Patriots best coverage safety (aside from Devin McCourty). He will likely continue to play in the “money” linebacker role and as a “nickel safety”, so that’s a minor qualm at this point.

Moving McCourty to safety full-time is something the New England Patriots have likely planned on doing all along, and the trade to acquire Aqib Talib has mae that a reality. Again, I know almost every Pats fan is in favor of this move.

McCourty and Alfonzo Dennard will likely cover the opposing team’s top wide receiver, while Aqib Talib will be in man coverage against the opponent’s No. 2 receiver. Arrington will likely be giving up a ton of yardage in the slot, but we can all bear with that with good coverage on the outside receivers and, likely, on the TE with Wilson.

You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.

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Tags: Alfonzo Dennard Aqib Talib Devin McCourty New England Patriots Patrick Chung Tavon Wilson

  • Dan Gleebitz

    Devon has been better than the status quo @ saftey no question. He is a great tackler but we need someone who will instill a bit of fear on opposing receivers. Sound tackling is the 101 basics, but hard bone jarring hits is where receivers will have it in the back of their head the next time they jump up for the deep ball.

    • Joe Soriano

      And that imposing safety is Patrick Chung, and his return would give the Pats a terrific safety tandem with the perfect blend of skills. Their uniqueness is going to be a strength for the Pats, and the ability of Tavon Wilson to cover TEs is also a huge plus for the Pats safety group.

  • Paul V. Suffriti

    I like the idea of having Talib and Dennard playing CB. McCourty is sound playing Safety. Dennard will make rookie mistakes but he does not look lost like other fill-ins. Looking forward to some stability in the back of the defense as the season progresses……now if we only could generate more pressure on the opposing QB.

    • Joe Soriano

      Dennard isn’t a fill-in, and I think he’s a viable starting corner in the league already. As for generating pressure, Trevor Scott and Jermaine Cunningham have emerged in sub-packages. The problem is getting more consistency in the pass rush from Rob Ninkovich. Chandler Jones has tailed off as well, and we can only hope the injury he sustained on Sunday doesn’t slow him down going forward.

      • Paul V. Suffriti

        More “consistency” from Ninkovich? I believe he leads the team in sacks (7). Ninkovich has more than one-third of the teams sack total (20). He is on course to get 10+ sacks this season. The problem lies with trying to get max. pressure from just the front four. Pats need to use LBs and Safety schemes and stunts to put more pressure on the QB (see Rams games). Hard to defend against the pass if the QB has 3 or more seconds to find a receiver. Chances have to be taken with added pressure to take the QB out of his comfort zone. Chandler and Rob have a combined 13 sacks so far. Take them out of the equation and the Pats have virtually no pass rush.

        • Joe Soriano

          I’m going to get on my soapbox here, because sacks are definitely not a good way to measure the consistency of a pass rusher. In fact, Ninko’s sacks mostly come in spurts when he dominates a weaker opponent. He’s a great run defender, but he isn’t a natural pass rusher and that shows. If you look at this pass rushing efficiency numbers on the Pro Football Focus, they rank among the worst 15 or so in the NFL this season among all pass rushers.

          • Paul V. Suffriti

            Boy, that’s not saying much about the overall pass rush the Pats have on defense….especially from the front four. Time to get creative on defense and create more pressure on the QB. Disguised schemes and stunts? A predictable safe vanilla defense will not get the Pats deep into the playoffs when they come up against good QBs. BB better have something up his sleeve.

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