NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko
The Patriots secondary has been much maligned over the course of the last two seasons. Fans have been clamoring for something to be done to address the issues in the defensive backfield. Well, just before the trading deadline the Patriots pulled off somewhat of a shocker by acquiring the talented but, often troubled CB Aqib Talib from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a 2013 4th round selection.
The Patriots released DB Sterling Moore 24 hours ago to the dismay of many. The release brought with it questions of the possibility that there could be another move to come. Just before the trade deadline passed we got our answer with the Patriots trading for Aqib Talib of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Patriots had to give up a 2013 4th round selection in return for Talib and a 2013 7th round selection.
Talib was the 20th overall selection by the Buccaneers in the 2008 NFL Draft from the University of Kansas. In his career Talib has amassed 179 tackles and 18 interceptions and 3 touchdowns. There’s no question Talib can play cornerback, but up to this point in his career his on the field play has been overshadow by off the field behavior.
Talib is currently serving a four game suspension for the use of Adderall, his suspension has one more game left on it, so he can’t suit up for the Patriots until week 11 vs. the Indianapolis Colts.
Now, on to how does this effect the Patriots and their secondary. Well, it’s been no secret the Patriots secondary has struggled and struggled badly, so no matter who they bring in here it’s likely to be an upgrade to some extent. The Patriots have especially struggled in man to man defense and have been terrible at locating and making plays on the ball. These are things Talib does well. He is a legitimate talent and has made some incredible plays in the NFL, but with him it all comes back to off the field behavior.
Here are a couple thoughts that are running through my head at the time of the trade.
1) The move could be a signal that Bill Belichick is sold of moving Devin McCourty to safety full time. By moving McCourty to safety the Patriots would have created a huge hole at cornerback with only rookie Alfonzo Dennard and Kyle Arrington as viable starters. Aqib Talib would at least give the Patriots move depth at corner. Talib has been used in Tampa Bay to cover the opposing team’s top player and at the very least will get a chance to improve the Patirots secondary play.
2) Bill Belichick knows the secondary is the weak link on this team and knows he needed to do something to improve Super Bowl chances of the team. By not making a move to fix the secondary last season it cost them the Super Bowl. Giving up a 4th round pick speaks to the possible desperation of need, or it could speak to how they value Talib. Even if this is a colossal swing and miss, you have to give Bill Belichick credit for attempting to fix the problem area on the team. A fourth round selection is a decent price to pay, this was obviously an area the Patriots feel they needed to address.
3) The Patriots added a veteran to their defensive backfield which they sorely needed. A lot has been made about this being the youngest defense Belichick has ever coached and that is even more true in the secondary. Tavon Wilson, Dennard, Ebner all rookies who have seen playing time in the secondary.
4) This trade will allow the Patriots to play more man to man coverage in the secondary. Alfonzo Dennard has shown he can handle himself in man coverage and Aqib Talib is at his best when in man coverage. This is an area where Devin McCourty really has struggled, by acquiring Talib they address a need area that has plagued them over the last two years. Talib also have good ball skills and instincts. He will get lazy with his technique which makes him susceptible to double moves and getting beat.
This is the type of move that will either be a home run or a complete disaster. A lot will depend on Talib and if he can buy into the system and stay out of trouble. Regardless of how this works out you have to give credit to the Patriots for admitting they needed to get an experienced play-maker in the secondary before it was too late. Who knows, if they made this trade last year maybe they win the Super Bowl. Only time will tell how it works out this year.