Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore has been out for the last two weeks with a concussion that literally came out of nowhere just before the Patriots took on the Jets.
Seriously… out of nowhere. Gilmore practiced all week leading up to the Jets matchup and then all of the sudden complained about having headaches and the Patriots sat him down for two straight weeks with a diagnosed concussion. Then this weird thing happened…
The Patriots go 2-0 and the defense actually started to come into form. Giving up 17 points against the Jets (regardless of still giving up big plays) and then giving up 7 points against a rocket-fueled offense in the Atlanta Falcons. Who led the charge in both of these games?
If you’ve been a spectator of these two wins, you have to admit Malcolm Butler has been EVERYWHERE. He finally has that swagger back in his step. Clawing the ball out of Jets’ tight end Austin Sefarian-Jenkins arms and containing Julio Jones. Butler has finally returned to being the “F You” kind of corner that’s made him lovable here in New England.
See where I’m going with this? It’s really hard not to connect these dots in some way shape or form… and I’m not going to go overboard with it but it does have some traction.
Gilmore goes out and suddenly the Patriots defense starts to look normal again. Busted coverages aren’t as frequent, and the points are down.
The insertion of players like Johnson Bademosi has given the Patriots a similar look to the secondaries they’ve had in years past. Here’s why…
2014: Darrelle Revis (Shutdown corner) and Brandon Browner (Physicality)
2015/2016: Malcolm Butler (Shutdown corner) and Logan Ryan (Physicality)
Say what you will about Logan Ryan, I know that I punched a few walls watching him play sometimes… but he could TACKLE. If there was a guy in front of him with the ball in his hands, he stuck him. The point is that this Patriots defense has had a specific identity over the past couple of years and the addition of Gilmore created a new dynamic.
This is the part where I say that I think this can and will still work out. It’s just not all that surprising that Malcolm Butler has had a boosted confidence lately.
So here we are… Gilmore is practicing again and YES that is a good thing because even though he’s overpaid he is still a talented cornerback. I trust in that kind of talent and MOST IMPORTANTLY the coaching staff of the Patriots to figure out how best to utilize both Gilmore and Butler sharing the field.
The most important thing is that the defense keeps building on the strong performances of the past two weeks.