Stephon Gilmore trying to hype up matchup with DeAndre Hopkins is uninspiring
By Jerry Trotta
Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore exuding arrogance ahead of Sunday’s game vs Arizona is a strange look.
The New England Patriots will have one last gasp at salvaging their playoff hopes when they welcome a well-rested but hobbled Arizona Cardinals side to Gillette Stadium on Sunday.
We’re still waiting for confirmation as to whether quarterback Kyler Murray (shoulder) will be cleared to play, but in the event that he’s given the green light, the Patriots’ faltering defense will have their work cut out of them to stymie Arizona’s high-powered offense.
It goes without saying that wideout DeAndre Hopkins is their most dangerous weapon, and you have to think that Bill Belichick hasn’t been getting any sleep trying to brainstorm ways to limit his potential impact.
While the 68-year-old head coach can be expected to throw different looks at Hopkins, it can be expected that cornerback Stephon Gilmore will shadow him across the entire field. Given the All-Pro’s shocking vulnerability in coverage this season, you would think that he would emanate some humbleness heading into heading into such a big matchup, right? Well, think again.
We love the confidence, but if you ask us, Gilmore’s underwhelming form this season hasn’t earned him the right to talk like this. Before you come at our necks, we fully understand how dominant he’s been since he signed with the Patriots back in 2017. Being the recipient of the Defensive Player of the Year award last season was a massive achievement and fully deserved.
However, Gilmore has been cooked on numerous occasions this season, and the stats are (somehow) more damning than the ever-reliable eye test. Per Pro Football Focus, opposing quarterbacks are completing 66.6% of their attempts (18-of-27) when targeting him. Those numbers rank 97th and 91st in their respective categories.
As a result, the two-time All-Pro has received lowly 61.1 coverage grade from PFF. To put his regression into an even greater perspective, he allowed a 48.9% completion rate (47-of-96) in 2019 and earned an elite 82.8 coverage grade.
As you can see, the beef between Gilmore and Hopkins dates back to last season, and we seriously hope that the veteran corner doesn’t get cooked. The Cardinals superstar has arguably been the best WR in the NFL this season, ranking first in receiving yards (912), second in yards per game (91.2) and third in both receptions (72) and targets (96).
For the Patriots’ sake, let’s hope that Gilmore puts his money where his mouth his and doesn’t allow Hopkins to go nuclear on Sunday.