Whether or not the Patriots would be better off with Devin McCourty playing safety rather than cornerback was a pretty big topic of discussion last year, and it has reappeared in 2012. NESN’s Doug Kyed makes a very solid case for moving McCourty below:
If McCourty transitions to safety permanently, which the Boston Globe’s Greg Bedard and Shalize Manza Young reported was the team’s intention prior to the season and before the Patriots saw a lack of depth at cornerback, that would leave Dennard and Arrington the starting cornerbacks with Dowling or Sterling Moore the nickel corner. Wilson would be able to transition back to the dime role he had earlier in the season — playing a hybrid safety/linebacker position — and Gregory would be the odd man out — once healthy.
Gregory has played four games for the Patriots before suffering his hip injury, and only played a full share of snaps in one of those games. Gregory hasn’t been a factor in special teams for New England yet, but he had experience there in San Diego. Gregory could be a jack of all trades for the Patriots, able to fill in at free safety, strong safety, special teams or covering the slot.
While the Patriots didn’t see immediate dividends from the new scheme, as demonstrated by allowing 300-plus yards through the air to the struggling Jets’ offense, this could be a step in the right direction. Two of the biggest problems the Patriots saw were coverage from linebackers — which a more experienced strong safety could improve — and leaving receivers wide open in the intermediate area of the field — which once again, a more experienced strong safety would improve. The rookie safety Wilson played fine on Sunday, but he was responsible for a couple blown coverages. Using man coverage on the outside, and a cover-one with the safeties plays to as many strengths as possible with the personnel that the team has.
It’s a really well written, well thought out article that goes into a great deal of detail – I highly recommend Pats fans take a few minutes to read the article in its entirety. Doug’s done a nice job at NESN.com, coming over from NEPatriotsDraft and filling in the major void created when Jeff Howe moved from NESN over to the Boston Herald. You can follow him on Twitter @DougKyedNESN.
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