New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore has been named the most valuable defensive back in the NFL by Pro Football Focus.
The New England Patriots defense has been up and down at times this season. They have had some bright spots, such as dominating performances against their AFC East rivals. However, they have also struggled at times.
New England has given up at least 24 points in six games, four of which saw the opponent score at least 30 points. Despite the shortcomings, there have been some standouts throughout the season, one being Stephon Gilmore.
Gilmore was signed last offseason to be a difference maker for the Patriots in their defensive secondary. After some early struggles, he figured things out and has carried that performance over to this season.
Gilmore has been great this season. In Week 12, he was named to Pro Football Focus’ Team of the Week. He had a strong game against the New York Jets, intercepting one pass, breaking up two more and recording a tackle. Only one of five pass attempts that were thrown at Gilmore was completed.
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That shutdown performance was one of many this season for Gilmore. How good has Gilmore been? He was named as the Most Valuable Defensive Back by Pro Football Focus.
Pro Football Focus recently handed out MVP awards for non-quarterbacks. Gilmore was picked as the most valuable defensive back and rightfully so.
Here is what was said about Gilmore.
"It was a close race between Gilmore and Cowboys cornerback Byron Jones, but Gilmore gets the slight edge because of his playmaking so far. The Patriots corner has forced an incompletion on 27.9% of his targets so far this season – the highest rate of any corner in the league. Targeting him has netted opposing quarterbacks a 70.9 passer rating and 44.3 completion percentage so far."
Throwing at Gilmore has proven to be a bad decision by opposing quarterbacks this season. The playmaking edge Gilmore has is real. He has only two interceptions on the season, but quarterbacks aren’t targeting him enough to bolster his stats.
In addition to the interceptions, Gilmore has two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, one tackle for loss, one quarterback hit and 34 total tackles. Where Gilmore really separates himself is in passes defended, where he leads the league with 15, which is tied with Kyle Fuller. Gilmore is only three passes defended off of his career-high of 18 set in 2015.
Bobby Wagner and Aaron Donald were named the most valuable linebacker and defensive lineman, respectively. Offensively, Adam Thielen was named most valuable wide receiver, Saquon Barkley was the most valuable running back and Ryan Ramzyck was the most valuable offensive lineman.
Out of all of the most valuable non-quarterbacks, only Barkley plays for a team out of the playoff race. Gilmore will continue to be relied upon by the Patriots to shut down opposing team’s No. 1 wide receivers.
This week will be a fun matchup as the Minnesota Vikings will face the Patriots, so we should see Thielen and Gilmore matched up against each other on a few occasions.