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.
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