When the Patriots signed Aqib Talib initially no one knew how much he would change the face of this defense, but sometimes seeing is believing. Talib came over from the Bucs in a trade made by Bill Belichick with his long time friend and coach of the Bucs Greg Schiano. When Schiano was being considered by the Buccaneers organization for the head coaching vacancy at the beginning of this year, Belichick quickly gave him his seal of approval. That seal of approval was quickly repaid in week 11 when Talib took the field after the trade wearing number 31 for your New England Patriots. Along with rookie Alfonzo Dennard’s addition, Talib and Dennard have improved the secondary and have allowed the Patriots to move Devin McCourty to his natural safety position where he thrives. Talib has also allowed the Patriots coaching staff to be more aggressive and bring the blitz more often, even creating a blitz package specifically for Jarod Mayo. The Patriots new look defensive aggression has allowed opposing QB’s less time to think and has led to the Patriots becoming number one in the NFL in the ratio of giveaways to takeaways this season (also has a little something to do with Tom Brady).
This week more than ever the New England Patriots will need Talib, who has been battling an injured hip, and Dennard, who is battling a knee injury, to step up and shut down the Texans wide outs. Both Talib and Dennard practiced two weeks ago, but Dennard didn’t play and Talib didn’t see the field much in the final game vs the Dolphins. They have been practicing throughout the bye week and I think they will play a major role in the Texans game, good or bad, trying to shut down Andre Johnson and the rest of the receivers on the Texans roster. The number one question mark coming into the season will be the number one thing to watch for in the Divisional Round of the playoffs this Sunday when the Pats take on the Texans.
Last year, the Patriots were one big catch away from winning the Super Bowl and one big secondary play away from stealing the Super Bowl. The addition of Talib could prove to be the second best move Belichick has made in his coaching career here in New England if the Patriots win the Super Bowl. Like Belichick’s first decision regarding Brady over Bledsoe, time will tell on Talib, but test number one is on January 13 against the Texans.