After cornerback Aqib Talib bolted for Denver earlier in the offseason, the group of cornerbacks in New England looked decent, but nothing special. Alfonzo Dennard and Logan Ryan were set to be the starting duo, and the only real depth they had was Kyle Arrington.
However Bill Belichick and company made a few big moves that instantly changed how the rest of the league looked at the Pats’ secondary. First, they signed the best cover corner in the game, Darrelle Revis. And then, they went out and got Brandon Browner, who is probably the most physical corner in the NFL. Adding these two made an okay unit, unto an elite unit, in a matter of hours.
When you have someone like Revis on your team, it basically takes away half of the field for an opposing offense. That’s how good he is. Revis will play tight man coverage on their best weapon, and pretty much take him out of the equation. This allows the Patriots to be more aggressive in their defensive calls, and roll coverage to the other side, where they may need some extra help. But what makes this group so special, is the talent that will already be on the other side.
Once Brandon Browner gets back from his four game suspension, it may be impossible to throw against New England. Browner is terrific in press coverage, as once he gets his hands on a receiver, it is lights out for that guy. I was really impressed when looking at his tape, at how his speed didn’t fail him once he had to turn and run. He won’t blow you away with his speed, but if his incredible jams sometimes fail, he can keep up with the best receivers in the game. And when you go down the list, you don’t really find any weaknesses in terms of third, and fourth string corners. Alfonzo Dennard has great technique and toughness, Logan Ryan has the potential to develop into one of the best corners in the game, and even though Kyle Arrington takes a lot of heat, he is pretty good when kept in the slot.
Now, I am not saying the Pats have the best overall secondary in the league. That title still belongs to the Seahawks. Until New England can find a better safety to pair with Devin McCourty, they won’t surpass the ‘Legion Of Boom’. But I do think Bill Belichick’s cornerback group is better than Seattle’s. I mean, the Pats third and fourth string corners are better than most team’s starters.
Barring any major injuries, I think the Patriots will have a top three pass defense in 2014.