Giants wide receiver Mario Manningham made some headlines earlier this week with some brash comments about Patriots receiver / defensive back Julian Edelman:
"I hope he's out there when we play them. I don't want to sound like that, but you know what I mean. To our advantage, I hope he's out there."
"It's a different stage. This ain't regular season. That ain't your real position, so we're going to try to expose you. It's all or nothing now. That ain't your position, this is the Super Bowl and we want you to play that position."
Edelman has played at the slot cornerback position at times throughout the year, but has really seen his playtime increase over the past few weeks, as he has seemingly surpassed Nate Jones on the depth chart.
Manningham likely saw Edelman struggle in the final drive against the Ravens while covering Anquan Boldin. However, aside from that brief stretch, if Manningham were to turn on the tape, he would likely see that Edelman actually has held his own in coverage.
I'm not going to try and lie to myself and say that Edelman is the perfect solution at slot cornerback. He's not. He will have his hands full trying to cover Manningham, or god forbid, Victor Cruz in the slot. But I do believe he is being underrated by Manningham.
So will Edelman see extensive time at cornerback during Super Bowl XLVI?
At this point, it's tough to say. I do believe he sees the field before Nate Jones, but due to the downfield ability of the Giants receivers, I could see the Patriots coaching staff throwing a wrinkle into their sub-packages by bringing on Antwaun Molden as the 5th defensive back instead. In this scenario, Molden would play left cornerback, with Devin McCourty shifting over to free safety, and Sterling Moore coming onto the field as the slot cornerback. While Molden struggles covering the underneath throws, he's shown he can be average to above average covering the deep ball.
The reason this issue warrants it's own article is because of the sheer volume of plays that I expect New England to be in sub-packages. The Giants run a lot of their offense out of the shot-gun and 3-wide receiver sets, and therefore the Patriots won't running the 3-4 or 4-3 base defense against the personnel groupings.
All of this being said, what's your opinion on how the Patriots' defensive backfield should look in sub-packages come Sunday's Super Bowl against the New York Giants?