With Aqib Talib and Alfonzo Dennard out on Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars due to injuries, the New England Patriots turned to Devin McCourty to move back to cornerback and help the team out. He played well despite the 348 total passing yards allowed by the Patriots, and his versatility and leadership have shown through fully in his third season in the league.
Bill Belichick praised McCourty by saying, “Devin gives us a lot of flexibility; he’s such a versatile guy. He’s an excellent tackler, which makes him a candidate to play inside at safety. Of course, you know about his speed and toughness, good ball skills, and the fact that he can go outside and play competitively in this game, where we needed him, or come inside when we needed him in there at safety and give some stability back there.
“He’s so unselfish. He’s well prepared. He’s got a good set of skills for either position really, corner or safety. He’s a total team-first player and I think that’s reflected in the fact that his teammates selected him as a captain in his second year on the team. That’s pretty unusual. That’s the way he is; he’s very unselfish and does what he needs to do or where he’s needed and he does it well. He’s come through for us defensively and in the kicking game in a variety of roles.”
McCourty has been one of the best players on the team this season, and the scary thing is that he’s even better as a free safety than he is at the cornerback position. And he’s a good corner. The acquisition of Aqib Talib allowed McCourty to move to safety, where his range and ball skills can be best utilized. He has picked off five passes, defended 13 in total, and he has also forced three fumbles.
What stands out to me about McCourty is his ability in run defense, and he has racked up 78 tackles this season. McCourty has been an all-around playmaker at the safety position, and you usually don’t see cornerbacks who transition to safety playing this well in run support. That’s because D-Mac was always solid in run defense as a CB.
More importantly, he is willing to play both positions and does what he can to help the Patriots win games. McCourty is another one of my favorites, and it always bothered me earlier in the season when he was getting some unnecessary hate due to the team’s overall struggles in pass defense.
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