Future Hall of Fame cornerback Darrelle Revis played one season for the New England Patriots, wearing No. 24 during 2014 and winning a Super Bowl.
Five years later, that jersey is worn by one of the top corners in the league, Stephon Gilmore. Or as Revis considers him, by far the best corner in the game.
— Darrelle Revis (@Revis24) October 11, 2019
Revis tweeted that compliment at the tail end of Thursday’s game between the Patriots and New York Giants. Gilmore had a big hand in the win with one pick and five pass deflections, one of which led to a John Simon interception.
Gilmore displayed incredible technique until the bitter end. While up 35-14 with less than three minutes left in the fourth, Gilmore punched up through Darius Slayton's hands to knock out a deep pass on fourth-and-10 from the Giants’ 37. Another former Pat, Donté Stallworth, jumped in on Twitter, as well, to call him “one of the most technically sound corners I’ve ever watched in the NFL.”
A former first-round pick of the Buffalo Bills, Gilmore has been the face of the Patriots’ defense since coming over in free agency two years ago. In 2018, he made his first All-Pro team after registering a career-high 20 pass deflections, and the advanced numbers back up his talent too. Pro Football Focus ranked him as the No. 1 cornerback last season after ranking fourth in the league from 2017-18 in completion percentage allowed (50.3 percent).
The Patriots own the top pass defense in the league, and it’s not particularly close. They’re tops in passing yards per game allowed (161) with second place 14.8 yards behind. The gap is even bigger in passer rating allowed (42.6 vs. 62.8) and interceptions (14 vs. 7), and it’s hard not to see Gilmore as the catalyst on this dominant unit.
Is Gilmore the best defensive back on the Pats?
One problem: Gilmore does not rate as the best defensive back in the league this season, according to Pro Football Focus. He’s not even the best on his team.
Despite two picks and eight pass deflections through six games, Gilmore only rates as the No. 40 cornerback in the league this season. And the Nos. 1 and 2 players are his own teammates: Jonathan Jones and Jason McCourty.
Jones has been a huge asset in the slot, where the Patriots have held opponents to a 42 passer rating. As PFF points out, he holds opponents to under five yards per target when lined up there. Meanwhile, McCourty has shown excellent coverage skills both on the inside and outside.
It’s too early to definitively say that Gilmore has been passed by both teammates, as numbers take more than six weeks to stabilize. But if anything, it shows the strength of the Patriots’ defense and how much of a nightmare it will be the rest of the season.
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