New England Patriots: Stephon Gilmore continues to excel this season
Has New England Patriots Pro Bowl cornerback Stephon Gilmore accomplished enough this season to be awarded Defensive Player of the Year?
Stephon Gilmore is proving why the New England Patriots awarded him the five-year, $65 million contract two years ago. Did Bill Belichick and the Patriots know Gilmore would eventually become the best cornerback in the NFL?
When Gilmore first arrived in New England back in 2017, everything wasn’t necessarily all perfect at first. But the struggles to pick up the defense and the right way to “do your job” in New England didn’t last long for Gilmore, as he was came on strong during the playoffs that first year.
Then followed up with a super encore in 2018, winning his first Super Bowl ring, earning his second Pro Bowl nod, and getting named a First-team All-Pro for the first time in his career.
Just two years later in 2019, “Gilly-Lock” is now considered to be the best corner in the NFL. Through 14 games this season, receivers covered by Gilmore have been targeted 67 times for a total of 25 completions (37%), 283 yards, and zero touchdowns. Gilmore has actually scored more touchdowns this season (two) than he has allowed, if you can believe it.
To add to his incredible Pro Bowl season – his second straight – the defensive back also has six interceptions this season, which is tied for the most picks in the NFL this year. Gilmore has also tied a franchise record by returning two of those interceptions to the house. He is the first Patriot since Teddy Bruschi in ‘03 to record two pick-sixes in the same season.
Gilmore has taken the opposing team’s best receivers out of the game completely thanks to his own individual efforts. Just to name a few receivers he’s shut down this year: Amari Cooper, DeAndre Hopkins, Odell Beckham Jr., and JuJu Smith-Schuster.
It’s almost like the Patriots stick Gilmore on whoever they gameplan to eliminate from the contest altogether. Gilmore and the Patriots have been successful in doing exactly that this season. The ability to have one portion of the field almost completely taken out of the game for the opposing quarterback is huge for any team; but it’s especially important when your team’s offense is struggling on the other end of the ball.
Per Pro Football Focus, the NFL passer rating this season on throws into Gilmore’s coverage has been 32.8. The NFL passer rating for throwing the ball away on every play is 39.6. This means that opposing QBs are better off just throwing the ball into the dirt or up into the stands than trying to target Gilmore this season.
It’s fair to say that the New England Patriots’ defense has carried the team to this point, and Stephon Gilmore has played a huge part in that. As he’s been one of the most consistent players on the team (and throughout the NFL), Gilmore is making a great case for himself to be in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year this season.
The now three-time Pro Bowl selection was a guest on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Zolak & Bertrand” show, and the guys asked him his thoughts about who deserves to win the award.
“I mean, my play speaks for itself,” Gilmore told them. “If you really watch the tape each and every game, there’s no question.”
I really enjoyed hearing this from Gilmore because he doesn’t necessarily take part in “humble brags” and usually stays pretty quiet in regards to talking about his own individual performances.
Gilmore is in a great position to become the first New England Patriots player to ever win the Defensive Player of the Year award. It would also be the first time a defensive back could win the award since Troy Polamalu in 2010, and the first time it could go to a cornerback since Charles Woodson back in 2009.
With the way this season has turned out for the New England Patriots, Stephon Gilmore and the defense in general are both going to be relied on even heavier as the team makes its way from the regular season into the playoffs and beyond.