Revis & Browner Give The Patriots Depth And Versatility

If you are Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots, the start of the 2014 NFL Season beginning with Free Agency couldn’t get here fast enough. After suffering a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning in the AFC Championship Game, there was a lot of work to do.

And things didn’t start off so well when New England’s two key free agents, decided to test the waters when Julian Edelman turned down a three year deal as Aqib Talib turned down a four-year, $40 million dollar offer and bolted just a few hours later to the Denver Broncos who are now looking even better in the 2015 NFL Superbowl odds.

Patriots’ fans were a combination of livid and bitter that Talib would bolt for the hated Broncos and heard was the old refrain that the Patriots are cheap and would shop at the bargain basement rack for free agents once again.

The sound you hear today from those fans is crickets.

New England and Belichick less than a day after losing Talib hauled in his replacement getting the Buc’s Darrelle Revis who was jettisoned by Tampa.  On Friday night, Belichick signed free-agent Brandon Browner formerly of the Seattle Seahawks and the Patriots secondary immediately went from big question mark to a position of strength.

New England’s cornerbacks now boast five starting caliber players in Revis who remains the gold standard at the position, Browner who at 6’4, 220 presents a huge and much needed physical presence who can play press man coverage. Added into that are last year’s starters, Alfonzo Dennard and slot corner Kyle Arrington. Second year player Logan Ryan saw significant action at corner as well logging over 600 snaps in 2013.

This unit is much more talented and deeper than the one that took the field against Denver in January. And it is much more versatile, Revis, miscast in Tampa’s scheme is capable of locking down one side of the field by himself as well as the opponent’s top wide receiver.

Browner a big, physical corner can play press man coverage but is big enough to slide inside to cover the larger wide receivers and tight ends. He brings a size element that was really lacking in the Patriots secondary. Browner prior to being suspended last season was thought to have lost a step. But he battled an ankle injury and is now thought to be completely healthy.

One train of thought is the team may decide to move Browner inside to strong safety next to Devin McCourty who himself is a converted corner. With Revis on one side and either Dennard or Ryan at the other with Arrington in the slot and McCourty and Browner at safety, the Patriots in their nickel formation can essentially play with five cornerbacks on the field.

Last season the strong safety position was manned by Steve Gregory was not physically suited for the role at 5’11 and 200. Browner is much better suited for that task as well as Belichick’s “Money” position. In dime packages, the Patriots wanted to replace a linebacker with a large safety, last year they brought in Adrian Wilson to fill the role but he went down in training camp.

The team also has second year safety Duron Harmon whom the team drafted in the 3rd round of the 2013 NFL Draft and has decent size at 6’1, 205 and who is being groomed to take over the strong safety position.

Now depending upon the opponent and the situation, Belichick has the ability to shift a lot of moving parts around in the secondary. Training camp which is slated to begin at the end of July should be an interesting one to watch as they attempt to mix all of these new pieces in the defense.

Speaking of training camp, an added benefit to bringing in Revis and Browner is that the Patriots young wide receiving core, Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins and Josh Boyce will have the opportunity to practice against the best in the business in Revis and one of the more physical guys in Browner.

For anyone who is counting, that begins in just 135 days…..

Comments

  1. Great article, If you watch Browners tape he definitely looks like a fit at safety. The NFL is a copycat league, and it looks like the pats are replicating what Seattle has. I’d bet they target a defensive end and nose tackle in the draft. Another offseason of workouts with Dobson/Amendola should pay huge dividends as well. Add newly signed Brandon LaFell, Edelman, and Gronk…Denver should be terrified