When the New England Patriots traded for Aqib Talib last year, they were hoping he could lock up an opposing team’s number one WR and allow the Patriots to be more creative on defense. We saw this at times last year as Talib made a noticeable impact when he was healthy. The Patriots brought Talib back on a one-year deal, and it looks like it is paying off.
Through three games Talib has been great on the outside. He did struggle a bit at the beginning of the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with Vincent Jackson making some catches early, but he would make some good plays on Jackson as the game went on until Jackson went down with an injury. Jackson is going to get his catches being 6-foot-5 and playing against a 6-foot-1 corner. Talib is bigger for a corner, but it is still hard to contain guy with the size and skill of a Vincent Jackson. As the game went on, Talib settled in and would undercut a route by Jackson and pick off his former teammate Josh Freeman for his league leading third interception of the year.
Not only are the Patriots hoping Talib can continue playing at this level, but Talib is banking on it. He came back to New England on a one-year deal hoping to break the bank in the offseason. Talib may not be in the conversation with Richard Sherman and Darrelle Revis, but he is one of the better corners in the league and allows the defense to do different things with his shutdown ability. Talib has done a good job, and QBs are realizing quickly not to throw in his direction on the field, which is exactly what a good corner is supposed to do.
The Patriots have not had a top corner since Ty Law. Devin McCourty has shown that he is better as a safety because he struggles in man coverage but has great ball skills. The Patriots also may have found a gem in Alfonzo Dennard who was a seventh round pick but won a starting job in his rookie year and looks like he has improved coming into year two. If Talib continues to play at a high level he will be a big part of the Patriots’ success on defense and will be in line for a big payday. The Patriots may be in a position where they need to bring him back, and that may not be a bad thing.