Once the New England Patriots acquired Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner this offseason, the question of where this secondary would rank in the NFL instantly began to spring up. We won’t know for sure until the season begins, but on paper, they are certainly elite.
Matt Miller of Bleacher Report released his rankings of the top secondaries in the NFL a few days ago, and the Patriots checked in at number two. I think this is an extremely fair assessment, especially seeing that Seattle is the only team he had slotted above them.
Everyone just seems to notice the top two guys, Darrelle Revis, and Brandon Browner, but what everyone forgets is the kind of depth New England will have.
Here is Millers’ take on this:
"If Revis keeps up his elite man-coverage play, free safety Devin McCourty will be a five-plus interception guy and Alfonzo Dennard can become an elite slot corner. The Patriots have talent—especially once Browner is back from a four-game suspension—but they also have depth. A lot of it. Logan Ryan, Tavon Wilson, Kyle Arrington and Patrick Chung have experience as starters, and with a Super Bowl run expected, they’ll come in handy down the stretch."
Nailed it. (Well, aside from Tavin Wilson, and Patrick Chung. They are pretty much worthless).
Not only is depth important in the event of a key injury, but keeping your defensive backs fresh is underrated. The Pats will have the luxury of rotating three talented guys in and out throughout the year, which will make life very tough for the opposing quarterback.
Darrelle Revis will lock-down one side of the field, and Brandon Browner will abuse the other half. In between, you have Alfonzo Dennard, Logan Ryan, and Kyle Arrington, all terrific slot defenders. There is no real weakness in this group, which is nice to see after a few years of horrific secondary play.
One last thing I want to point out, is safety Devin McCourty. For some reason, he is still flying under the radar, despite putting together an excellent 2013 campaign. His stats don’t jump off the page, but when you watch him play, you see why he is among the best in the NFL. Corners will get beat. That is a fact. So having someone like McCourty watching over them is what sets this defense (and Seattle’s) apart from the rest.
I look forward to seeing how this “All-Star” defensive backfield performs in the coming months, specifically when Browner returns from his four game suspension. We will be in for a great show.