Stephon Gilmore is one of the quieter guys on the Patriots’ roster, but when it comes to explaining why he’s been so successful in the New England defensive scheme the last couple of years, he can really open up.
Appearing on the “Double Coverage” podcast with teammates Devin and Jason McCourty, the cornerback was forthcoming when he was asked why he’s reached such rare heights with the Patriots.
“Me, in Buffalo, the first five years, I had four different defensive coordinators, three different head coaches. So I was kind of trying to learn each and every year,” said Gilmore. “Once I got to New England, I got some consistency and the same guys around, same coaches. I feel like that is why my game took off more.”
While there have been multiple defensive signal-callers in New England since Gilmore first arrived prior to the 2017 season — including Matt Patricia and Brian Flores — he’s worked with one head coach in Bill Belichick. By way of comparison, Gilmore, who this past season became the first player in franchise history to earn defensive player of the year honors, played for head coaches Chan Gailey, Doug Marrone, and Rex Ryan in his five years in Buffalo.
In addition, there’s been consistency in the Patriots’ secondary over that same stretch, as safeties Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung have started alongside Gilmore on a regular basis the last three years.
Gilmore, who in 2018 became just the seventh player in the Belichick era to win a Super Bowl, land a first-team All-Pro berth, and a Pro Bowl nomination all in the same year, said he’s able to sharpen his skills every week by drawing the No. 1 receiver on the opposing team.
“It is tough every week going against the best guy,” said Gilmore, who will turn 30 in September. “[You can’t] have one play that you slack off. I try and focus on each and every play and try not to let my team down. Going in each and every week you know the ball is coming your way, that is the thing you do know because you’re covering the best guy. Sometimes being on another guy you know the ball might not come your way, but you still play hard. When you’re covering the best guy the ball can come to you every single play, so that is the thing that drives me each and every week.”
Christopher Price can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at cpriceglobe.