Patriots

Bill Belichick puts Stephon Gilmore in class with Ty Law, Aqib Talib as corners whose input is valued

Bill Belichick puts Stephon Gilmore in class with Ty Law, Aqib Talib as corners whose input is valued

FOXBORO -- Line 'em up. Knock 'em down.

That's been life for Stephon Gilmore over the course of the last several weeks. He's been given the assignment of covering the opponent's top wideout -- not always exclusively, but oftentimes close to it -- and played like one of the top corners in football. If not the top corner.

Gilmore held Green Bay's Davante Adams to two catches and 15 yards on four targets on Sunday night. The week prior, he gave up two catches to Buffalo's Kelvin Benjamin on seven targets. On four targets in coverage of Chicago's Allen Robinson, Gilmore held Robinson without a catch and he broke up a pass. On a night when the Chiefs put up 40, Gilmore limited Sammy Watkins to two catches and 18 yards on four targets.

Gilmore is now the top-graded corner in football, according to Pro Football Focus. Since Week 3, Gilmore has allowed a quarterback rating of 46.8 on passes thrown his way, which ranks fourth in the league.

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“He’s definitely the best corner in the league this year,” Jason McCourty told Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran recently.

"I'll let everybody else say that," Gilmore said. "I just kinda like to focus on each week because I've found out at corner you gotta really focus on each week. You can't get caught up in last week. No matter who you're going against this week, it starts over. You gotta really focus on each and every play, getting better. Going against somebody different this week and I gotta prove myself this week."

Bill Belichick said on Wednesday that when he's determining the best way to deploy his defense, he values conversations with Gilmore the way he valued conversations with some of the other shut-down corners he's had during his years with the Patriots.

"Yeah, of course. Yeah, sure," Belichick said. "I mean, look, I have a ton of respect for Stephon. He’s covered and played against a lot of guys in this league. I mean, he’s willing to do whatever you ask him to do. I don’t think it’s a question of that. But yeah, you talk to those guys when you talk about matching them up – Ty [Law] or [Aqib] Talib or Gilmore, guys like that. 

"You know, ‘How do you feel about certain guys?’ Because, again, playing against them is one thing, but how a particular player plays against them and what do you feel good about on the matchups or anything you’re worried about. You know, and then they tell you and sometimes that helps you how you want to defend them. 

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"Do they feel like they need help over the top? Do they feel like they need help underneath? Do they not feel like they need it? Those guys are pretty honest -- at least they have been through the years I’ve coached them. I mean, those are guys like that. Gilmore, Law, Talib. Those guys certainly fell into that category. They’d say, ‘Look, I don’t need any help on this guy.’ Then alright, great."

Gilmore isn't the most outspoken player in the Patriots locker, and he's not necessarily knocking down the doors of anyone's offices at One Patriot Place to suggest scheme or technique changes, but he appreciates those moments when coaches come to him with an idea or a question about a particular matchup.

"Most of the time we have the same thought," he said. ". . . We've got great coaches here and most of the time, the stuff they say is what happens. They wouldn't tell you nothing that would put you in a bad position so I listen to it and just try to make plays."

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Patrick Mahomes voted top offensive player in NFL by fellow players

Patrick Mahomes voted top offensive player in NFL by fellow players

Patrick Mahomes has had a stellar season by all conceivable measures. It may end up with Mahomes bringing home an MVP trophy in only his second season in the NFL. 

In the week leading up to Mahomes' biggest game of his young career against the Patriots, Sporting News announced that Mahomes had been voted their 2018 Offensive Player of the Year. 

The award is determined by the votes of fellow players, who determined that Mahomes was the top player on that side of the ball this year, beating out Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, Todd Gurley, and Antonio Brown, who all received votes for first place. He's the youngest player to ever receive the award. 

As noted by Sporting News, Mahomes is one of only three QBs to throw for 50 touchdowns in a season, joining Peyton Manning and the player he'll be facing off against in the AFC Championship Game, Tom Brady. Brady won the award in his record-breaking 2007 season. 

This is undoubtedly the first of many acolades for the young quarterback, who's only one game away from the Super Bowl in his first year as a starter. His peers recognized the amazing season he's had. 

Some Patriots may have voted for Mahomes to get the award, but will be doing everything they can to stop him on Sunday. He may have won the same award Brady has won, but hasn't yet proved that he can win when the stage is biggest and the lights are brightest. Sunday will be his biggest test yet. 

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Quick Slants Podcast: How the Patriots were able to crush Chargers but why their scheme will have to change against Chiefs

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Quick Slants Podcast: How the Patriots were able to crush Chargers but why their scheme will have to change against Chiefs

3:10 - Patriots were able to beat up on the Chargers. The defense blitzed Philip Rivers and got him off his spot.

4:20 - Both Tom Brady and Philip Rivers are pocket passers. Why were the Patriots able to get pressure but Chargers weren’t?

5:30 - Patriots won’t be able to play the same way against the Chiefs.

7:00 - Why didn’t the Chargers change up their scheme after having trouble stopping Tom Brady and the offense?

8:15 - Patriots offensive line was tremendous against the Chargers. Dante Scarnecchia is one of the best offensive line coaches in the NFL.

12:20 - Patriots will change up their scheme against the Chiefs and will have something different from when they met last in Week 6.

16:35 - How will the Patriots be able to slow down Tyreek Hill? Chiefs have so many weapons. Patriots need to use the running game to keep Kansas City off the field.

19:35 - Patriots had a lot of success stopping the run against the Chargers.

21:35 - Jerod Mayo explains why the grass at Arrowhead Stadium can be a problem for the Patriots defense.

23:45 - Breaking down Andy Reid’s offenses and how he likes to script out the start of games.

25:50 - How tough will it be for Tom Brady to communicate to the offense before the snap in Arrowhead?

30:30 - Philip Rivers composure against the Patriots and how it affected the Chargers performance.

31:40 - How much does experience impact performances in the AFC Championship game?

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