The idea was planted in the form of Ras-I Dowling, a tall corner with athletic ability to make plays. However, Dowling went down with a season ending injury and before he did, wasn’t very good at all. Fast forward to Sunday and the debut of Aqib Talib. It didn’t start out good, getting beat at the back of the end zone by T.Y. Hilton.
Talib then displayed why the Patriots traded for him by electrifying the Foxboro faithful with an interception and return for a touchdown. It was a perfect scenario for a player that came with many questions; it’s hard to ask them anything with your jaw dropped. Talib wasn’t perfect, matter of fact, Hilton burned him again on a fade later in the game for a touchdown.
However, the pick 6 is what everyone was looking for, and when it happened, dreams of pick 6’s danced in Patriots fans heads. Not to be undone, Alfonzo Dennard did his best Ty Law impression, jumping an Andrew Luck sideline pass intended for Reggie Wayne and taking it 87 yards to pay dirt. Dennard made plays all game, including laying out to tip a pass with his finger tips and was also tough against the run. We wrote about Dennard as the X-factor for the Patriots secondary this year.
He’s a top notch talent that many missed on because of his dropped draft status. However, any NFL executive would tell you that he was a better prospect than his counterpart at Nebraska and New York Giants 2011 first round draft pick Prince Amukamara. Dennard is physical at the line, and along with Talib can help the pass rush by holding up or redirecting receivers and disrupting opposing offenses’ timing.
Not to be overshadowed is Devin McCourty and his position switch to safety. McCourty fits the safety role better than corner, and his speed allows him to get to the sidelines to help corners as he did early and often. McCourty plays stronger from the safety spot, he’s strong in run support but his experience as a corner serves him well covering tight ends and running backs, as well as patrolling the deep halves of the field.
There is some controversy with Patrick Chung tweeting a veiled complaint about being healthy but still inactive, but truthfully Tavon Wilson, who has 4 interceptions (Including 1 in the Colts game), is a far better playmaker than Chung, who just can’t make impact plays.
Chung's ball skills are poor, and coming out of college was supposed to be a big hitter, but really hasn't shown that quality. He's an in the box safety, not a split safety, and he struggles to cover tight ends. Chung may not get his starting job back as Wilson to us is an upgrade.
Steve Gregory is a good third safety, but will get bumped own to four regardless if Chung regains his starting position or not. Then it becomes a battle between the two for playing time.