Mike:Logan RyanT WilsonHarmonMcCourtyDennardChungRyanButlerMike:How can this be our secondary? Im going to cry.... This could be the worst group in the nfl or maybe all time.... Im not going crazy here.... It truly could end up as the worst group in nfl history
The above was an exact quote to ESPN's Mike Reiss in his weekly chat.
Yes, the Patriots lost the best cornerback in the league to a division rival.
Yes, New England's number two corner just signed a three year deal with the Saints.
Yes, the Patriots will likely have to change the entire scheme of their secondary to compensate for these losses.
No, this is not the worst secondary in the NFL or of all time. So long as the Patriots field Devin McCourty, some team will be worse off. He's that good.
But for some perspective, let's go on a journey to the Patriots 2011 secondary to see how bad it can really get.
Over the course of the 2011 Super Bowl season, the Patriots fielded sixteen different players in the secondary, including two snaps with Rob Gronkowski on the Hail Mary defense. Devin McCourty was the best player of that secondary, but that's mostly out of default.
The Patriots fielded multiple offensive players in the secondary during important games. They fielded eleven different players at safety. The brother of the Patriots new special teams coach played in four games. You don't remember half of these names.
Here are the top five line-ups from the 2011 season.
5. Conference Championship vs the Ravens. The Patriots had Devin McCourty and Pat Chung play wire-to-wire at safety, while James Ihedigbo played a fair amount across from Chung at safety. Kyle Arrington missed some time during the game. Random pick-ups Antwaun Molden and Nathan Jones played a few snaps during the game, while Sterling Moore was the hero at the end of the day. The highlight of this game was the Patriots usage of wide receiver Julian Edelman in coverage of Anquan Boldin. That happened and the Patriots still went to the Super Bowl. It could be worse.
4. Week 13 vs the Colts. There were four defensive backs that played the entire game: Arrington, Ihedigbo, Nathan Jones, and Matthew Slater. This might be all you need to know. Sergio Brown played some safety, too. It could be worse.
3. Week 2 vs the Chargers. The season was still young and the Patriots fielded nine different players in the secondary. Devin McCourty led the team in snaps. Behind him: Brown, Josh Barrett, Chung, Leigh Bodden, Arrington, Ras-I Dowling, Ihedigbo, and Molden. It could be worse.
2. Week 12 vs the Eagles. The Patriots were McCourty-less and were led by Arrington and Ihedigbo. Sterling Moore, Phillip Adams, and Antwaun Molden rounded out the unit. The Patriots couldn't figure out the safety position and Sergio Brown played 32 snaps. Julian Edelman played 16 snaps. I don't know if any of these players would crack the starting four of the Patriots current roster. It could be worse.
1. Week 11 vs the Chiefs. Molden led the team with 70 snaps. Arrington, Ihedigbo, Moore, and Adams all collected over 30 snaps. Ross Ventrone, the human roster-yo-yo, played 18. Edelman played 13.
The Patriots are clearly not in the best possible situation when it comes to their secondary. There's obvious room for improvement. But for anyone saying that this team is no longer a contender because of the state of the secondary, please take a step back.
It could be worse. It could be much worse. And much worse made it to the Super Bowl with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.