FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick's comments were brief, and to some they may have been obvious. But they highlighted the contrasting situations the Patriots and Dolphins are currently dealing with when it comes to the safety position.
Touching on the consistency he's seen from Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung and Duron Harmon -- all of whom have played in all 15 regular-season games this season -- Belichick said, "It’s huge."
"They’re good players and they have good communication," Belichick added. "They work well together in terms of disguises and they work well with their teammates whether it be the defensive ends, linebackers, the nickel back and so forth, and the corners . . . They can run, they cover the deep part of the field good and they’re pretty consistent tacklers. That’s a really good group."
McCourty has played 98 percent of the team's defensive snaps this season. Chung, whose role can change on a play-to-play basis, has seen 96 percent. Harmon, who typically comes in for nickel packages, has played in 50 percent of the plays on that side of the ball.
On the opposite sideline this week in Miami, the Dolphins will be without both of their starters at the same position. Isa Abdul-Quddus was placed on injured reserve earlier this week, and Reshad Jones played just six games this year before being knocked out for the season due to injury. Both players played 80 snaps when the Patriots and Dolphins met back in Week 2.
In their absence, Michael Thomas and Bacarri Rambo could see the bulk of the playing time at safety. It will be worth watching to see if the Patriots attempt to take advantage of the personnel changes at those spots -- perhaps using deeper shots down the field, where Tom Brady has been very effective this year -- in the regular-season finale.