Aqib Talib has had a tough matchup the last two weeks against Vincent Jackson and Julio Jones. It does not get much easier as the season moves on, and he will have his hands full for a third straight week with AJ Green of the Cincinnati Bengals. Green was taken two picks before Julio Jones in the 2o11 NFL Draft and is considered, like Jones, as one of the best WRs in the NFL.
Green is a different kind of receiver than Jones, so it will pose a new challenge for Talib. Another big receiver at 6-foot-4, Talib will be challenged by a guy who is bigger than him and can out jump him. With that said, Green is less physical than Julio Jones and Talib may be able to frustrate him getting off the line. That may be true, but Green is a great talent and he will get his fair share of catches even against top corners. AJ Green and Julio Jones are somewhat like this generation’s Terrell Owens and Randy Moss. Both receivers were bigger guys who made big plays all the time, but TO was more of a physical receiver like Jones, while Randy Moss had deceptive speed with his long strides and could out jump anyone covering him which is something AJ Green does regularly. Both Green and Jones look like they could be in line for similar careers if they stay healthy.
Talib has shown he should be talked about as a top corner in the NFL, and if he continues to shut down big time receivers he will be in line for a big raise. He is tied for the league lead in interceptions and came up with some huge plays against the Atlanta Falcons, including the one to end the game. The Patriots should consider signing him to an extension sooner rather than later, because if he plays the whole season at this level and the Patriots make a deep playoff run, he could command upwards to $10 million a year. Contract talks aside, with Vince Wilfork going down due to injury, Talib needs to continue to step up big and help this defense maintain its status as one of the best in the league.