Do The New England Patriots Have The Best Secondary?
By Weston Blasi
Is it possible for a franchise to lose a Pro-Bowl cornerback and have a better secondary the following season? With Aqib Talib heading to the Denver Broncos via free-agency, the New England Patriots are actually poised to have a better secondary during the 2014 NFL Season.
As the 26th-ranked total defense in 2013, New England knew they had to make a huge splash during the off-season. The Patriots signed Darrelle Revis to a one-year, $12 million deal with a $20-million team-option for 2015. Revis is noted as one of the best cover corners in the NFL in recent memory after he had held some of the best receivers in the game to “mediocre” games. Just ask players like Randy Moss and Andre Johnson.
The one criticism against Revis over the years has been his inability to produce interceptions. Compared to other top-flight corners like Seattle’s Richard Sherman, who has secured 20 picks in the past three seasons, Revis only has seven in the same time frame and 21 for his seven-year career. The five-time All-Pro adds stability to a usually suspect part of the Patriots’ arsenal and their bend, but don’t break defense.
In relation to Revis, Brandon Browner was a more questionable signing for the Patriots this offseason because of his character and problems with the leaguer. As a corner, Browner offers something unique; size that most defensive back do not have in the league today. He stands at 6-foot-4 and is listed at 220 pounds, similar to the sizes of WRs like Cincinnati’s A.J. Green and Detroit’s Calvin Johnson. Browner comes to the Patriots with tremendous accolades and a Super Bowl ring, despite missing the second half of the 2013 NFL Season. The only downside to his arrival is his immediate suspension for violating the National Football Leagues’ substance abuse policy. Browner will be missing from the Patriots’ lineup for the first four games of the season after a settlement was reached to reinstate him on March 4th.
To start the season, New England will have to decide who will start opposite Darrelle Revis. As of right now, it looks like there are two options:
Logan Ryan – Of the players currently on the roster, Ryan joins Revis and Browner as the only “locks” to make the Patriots’ 53-man roster. In 16 games last season, Ryan accumulated five interceptions, tied for the fifth most in the NFL. As of right now, it seems like he is the frontrunner to take the starter job while Browner is sidelined, but if a young stud has a great training camp and grabs head coach Bill Belichick’s attention, anything can happen.
Alfonzo Dennard – Entering his third year from Nebraska, Dennard may be the wild card in the Patriots’ CB situation. But he has his own issues. He spent 35 days in a Nebraska prison for violating his probation. Additionally, injuries have had a profound effect on his career to date. Arthroscopic knee surgery, leg injury, and an ankle injury all have sidelined him over the course of the past two seasons.
With all of this talent at cornerback to go with Devin McCourty at free safety, New England may have the best secondary in the NFL. Maybe, it is time for the “Legion of Boom” in Seattle to give up their title.