The New England Patriots secondary has been excellent this season, but they will have their toughest matchup yet against the New Orleans Saints. While the Patriots pass defense passed its test against the Atlanta Falcons star wide receiver duo of Roddy White and Julio Jones, both of those players were slightly hobbled with injuries going into that game. Beyond that, the Saints are also much deeper at wide receiver, and they have a huge amount of weapons for Drew Brees to throw it to. Marques Colston, Kenny Stills, Lance Moore, and Robert Meachem headline the list of receivers, but superstar TE Jimmy Graham is the best pass-catcher of them all. Throw in ultimate scat back Darren Sproles and the underrated Pierre Thomas, and you have seven weapons for Brees to throw it to.
At least the New England Patriots have two game-changers of their own in the secondary to go with solid CBs Alfonzo Dennard and Kyle Arrington, as both Aqib Talib and Devin McCourty are two of the most talented players at their respective positions. McCourty has been playing at an elite level at safety since making the switch in the middle of last season, but Talib has really come on strong this season.
He’s always had the talent, but this is the year Talib was finally supposed to put it all together into one consistently elite year, and it looks like this is indeed the year where he makes his stamp on the league as a truly elite player (based on the way he has played thus far). New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton certainly knows, and he gave some high praise to Talib, who he is very familiar with (Payton saw Talib plenty of times back when Talib was with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers).
“Aqib is someone who has excellent ball skills. He is long, so he gets his hands on a lot of passes. You really have to be on target with where you are throwing his way. He also has very good recovery speed and so he can make up a step. He is playing at an elite level right now. That is just looking at the film every game and watching him very consistently. He’s also drawn some tough matchups and he is very competitive.”
Talib’s size and physicality are what make him such a great press corner, and Payton is 100% correct in stating that Talib has played at a high level against some tough players this year. He shut down nightmare matchup Vincent Jackson, as well as elite Falcons WRs Julio Jones and Roddy White when matched up on either of them. Heck, he managed to hold his own against A.J. Green last week, too.