In an effort to improve the back end of their defense, the Patriots did some moving around in the secondary at the end of the season, and we are seeing it in the playoffs. CB Devin McCourty, last year's rookie sensation, is playing safety in the team's nickel package, and undrafted rookie Sterling Moore comes in at corner. McCourty encountered a sophomore slump, often getting beaten for big plays this year. When Moore first joined the club, it was at safety, but he moved back to his college position of corner for this new package and picked off two passes in the regular-season finale.
"For the safety, one of the things you are looking for is a guy that can track the ball in the air, which Devin has been able to do," Patriots DB coach Josh Boyer said on a conference call this week.
Moore and McCourty are showing the versatility the Patriots like in their players. "I think the thing with Sterling is that, one, he is pretty athletic," said Boyer. With Patrick Chung back in the secondary, the Patriots don't have to use special-teamer Matthew Slater, and with this alignment, they can get more athleticism and speed on the field with Moore and McCourty. It will likely be tested this Sunday in the AFC championship game against a Ravens team that has been successful throwing the deep ball.
If this look is something that continues to produce, it may lessen an apparent need to get better personnel in the secondary this offseason.