Nice read from Frenz. Seems to me all but a forgone conclusion he’ll stay at safety, but it’s nice to know you can always kick him back to corner if needed.
[A] very valid point comes from Greg Bedard of The Boston Globe in the video above: McCourty has played very well at safety, given almost no offseason practice or preparation at the position. With a full offseason at safety, McCourty could very well emerge as a top free safety in the NFL. Should McCourty play cornerback or safety in 2013 and beyond? Cornerback Safety Submit Vote vote to see results The Patriots have a lot of options in the secondary and part of the reason why is McCourty’s versatility.
Defensive back Devin McCourty isn’t just a good safety, he’s very good. He’s reliable, smart, instinctive, athletic, and much more. McCourty has been the target of some criticism in 2012, some of which was merited, but he’s been very good all over the field. One play particularly resonated from the first half on Sunday, and it came with roughly six minutes to play in the first half. McCourty was aligned as the safety to the left side of the field, and had deep half responsibilities in the Patriots’ cover 2 scheme. Luck worked to fit a throw to receiver LaVonn Brazill down the right sideline, but McCourty glided to the sideline to break the play up. That throw is the most difficult for a cover 2 safety to defend, and it’s a play that we’ve seen Patrick Chung struggle to make this season. McCourty’s reliability cannot be overlooked.
In his postgame speech to players after the 52-28 win over the Bills, Bill Belichick singled out cornerback Devin McCourty and told him that while he might not have much support from those outside of the locker room (a reference to the media, it would seem), he’d go with him any day.
Great breakdown from Frenz with pretty all-22 pics and a shoutout to yours truly.
Cornerback Devin McCourty had a great rookie year in 2010, but receivers performed a lot better against him in 2011. In 2011, quarterbacks had a rating of 104.7 when throwing McCourty’s way. His third year has gone a lot better than his second, and now quarterbacks have a rating of just 42.2 when throwing at McCourty, which is eighth lowest in the league.
McCourty’s been strangely under the radar in camp. Most eyes have been on Dowling and Arrington. Not sure if that’s a good or bad thing.
The Patriots’ re-signing of safety James Ihedigbo appears to be another sign that the coaching staff would prefer to keep Devin McCourty at cornerback. That’s where McCourty was exclusively in offseason practices attended by media members. While McCourty played safety in sub packages late last season and in the playoffs, it looks like that move was more a result of a safety shortage than a real desire to move McCourty.
The main reasons I feel McCourty is primed for a bounceback season are: 1) Better health; 2) Projected better safety play behind him; 3) Another season to perfect his technique. While there were times we could point to the scheme as a contributor to his struggles (when the team played man early in the year, it didn’t always look like a great fit), I think that’s too easy of an answer when looking at the overall body of work. Another factor is that McCourty, in only his third season, already strikes me as a consummate pro, mature beyond his years. At the least, anyone investing in him knows they are going to get everything he has from a dedication and hard work perspective.
McCourty had stuggles in seeing the ball more than anything this season. His timing of getting his head around was off and this is a function of teams having a season of film to break down on him. I would look to see a marked improvement in this next season as this is a reps issue. The other critical issue is his safety continuity. Athletically he was just fine and 99% of his technique was there all season, he just couldn’t quite put it all together. Without good safety play with him, he was frequently stranded in no man’s land and looking out of position because his safeties were either out of position or too slow to help him out. For the importance of safety-corner interaction look at how much better the secondary as a whole played when McCourty was moved to safety where he played quite well. Both corners improved when he moved there.