Pro Football Focus rates McCourty best safety in NFL this year
According to respected stats and analysis website Pro Football Focus, third-year Patriot Devin McCourty is the best safety in the league this season, based on their complex rating system. If you are unfamiliar with how PFF assesses these numerical values to player's performance, you can read a detailed breakdown here.
The Patriots defense was a disaster this past Sunday vs. the Jets, getting lit up in the pass and run game by an inferior team. Logan Ryan's pick and the continued stellar play by McCourty were two of the lone bright spots for a unit that is clearly going to struggle without Mayo, Wilfork and Talib (his time table to return from a hip injury is still unknown).
With Talib out, McCourty has had to shift and play some cornerback in addition to safety, where he thrives. Historically, he has had some struggles as a cover corner, but has been a steadying force this year for an up and down defense. Not only has he been solid in coverage, he has had a number of jarring hits that have separated the ball from the intended receiver.
With a decimated defense in front of him, McCourty will have to continue to play at this level if the Patriots are going to have a chance at a Super Bowl run this year. Following the season-ending injuries to Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo, McCourty regained his captaincy last week. He and newly appointed co-captain Rob Ninkovich now have to step up as veteran leaders on a defense still full of youth and inexperience.
Last week was a flashback to the defenses of recent Patriots teams, with wide open receivers stretching the field throughout the game. While Aqib Talib has gotten alot of headlines, deservedly so, Devin McCourty is playing the best football of his career and has been one of the more valuable players on the 2013 Patriots.