When both Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner left the Patriots to play elsewhere prior to the 2015 season their was plenty of reason for concern heading into the season regarding the Patriots secondary.
Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan assumed the starting roles last season and not only did this tandem impress, they excelled. The two together recorded six interceptions and 27 passes defended. Ryan's performance was far more surprising, given that he began the season behind Terrell Brown who had his season cut short due to injury.
As backups, the two had very different experiences in their first Super bowl. While Butler cemented himself in Patriot royalty, Ryan struggled quite a bit. Nonetheless, the two young corners were very pleasant surprises after effectively matching up against some of the leagues best pass catchers.
The trio of Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung and Duron Harmon also pose as a very loaded safety group as well. Harmon plays most of his game in the sub package role and almost strictly plays on passing downs. In all his snaps over the past two years Harmon has had more interceptions (5) than receptions allowed (3).
Chung on the other hand plays a more physical type of game, often as a strong safety. Chung's best performance came in the divisional round matchup against the Chiefs is last years postseason. With Jeremy Maclin out, Travis Kelce was Alex Smith's go-to target, where Chung assumed the role of guarding him for the majority of that game. Chung did a fantastic job limiting him to just 23 receiving yards, making him a non factor.
The best of the bunch is team captain Devin McCourty who is typically the free safety. McCourty is versatile and a perfect product of Bill Belichick as one of the smartest players on the team. It's also not unusual to see all three on the field when the Pats line-up in a nickel defense.
The only question mark leading into this season would be the third corner spot, but the hope is that rookie Cyrus Jones will fill that role.