Shutdown corners typically don’t point to numbers to prove their point. They go to the video.
A week ago, Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore was asked if he thought he was one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL and he found himself straddling the line between honesty and humility when he said, “Film don’t lie.”
He got confirmation Friday in the form of his first first-team All-Pro team.
Gilmore was the only member of the Patriots to be named to the first team. Cordarrelle Patterson got a second-team nod as a kick returner.
“He’s had a great year and he’s been just so solid,” Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said of Gilmore earlier in the week.
“It’s tough to complete the ball on him. We feel that way in practice. I’ve played with a lot of good corners and he’s right up there with the best of them. He knocks the ball away, intercepts the ball, makes the quarterback pay. He’s physical, good in the run game, good in zone, good in short, intermediate, deep. I mean, he’s all-around just been a great player for us.”
Traditional stats don’t necessarily do Gilmore justice. Tasked with clamping down on the opponent’s No. 1 receiver on a weekly basis, Gilmore made 45 tackles, picked off two passes, forced two fumbles, recovered one, and broke up 20 passes while playing all 16 games for the first time since his rookie season.
But Gilmore has set the bar for corners this season, according to ProFootball Focus.com. By their metrics, he graded out as the best corner in the league with a 90.7 rating.
“It means a lot,” said defensive back Patrick Chung. “It only means something if he can do it all the time. We always preach that, but he means a lot. He’s definitely a good corner, been competitive and a smart guy.
“We put him on those guys for a reason. He’s just good, man. He’s good, he’s quiet, and he just does his job, a professional. That’s what stands out about him the most, is that he’s a professional and he comes in and studies his film and makes sure he knows what he’s supposed to do.”
Two Patriots assistant coaches have been named as candidates for jobs around the league. Defensive coordinator Brian Flores interviewed with the Dolphins on Friday and will interview with the Packers on Saturday. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who turned down an interview with the Bengals, has been linked to the Packers and Browns.
Belichick didn’t address the coaching carousel, but praised all of his assistants.
“I’m very fortunate to have the coaching staff that I have,” he said. “Those guys all do an excellent job, they work hard, they prepare extremely well, they are demanding of their players, get their players to perform well, at the same time have a good team chemistry and appreciation for what everybody else is doing outside of just their individual area, which is obviously important to them, but there’s a bigger picture that they have to work within for the overall benefit of the team.”
Julian Benbow can be reached at email@example.com.