The New England Patriots are the best team in football by just about every measure. While their offense is one of the best in the league, the defense is playing on another level. The unit has only allowed one touchdown all season and is basically running laps around the rest of the league. While just about every player is having a good season, Jamie Collins and Devin McCourty stand out above the rest. Both players are in the midst of phenomenal years, earning a spot on the PFF First-Quarter All-Pro team.
Jamie Collins, Devin McCourty Selected to PFF First-Quarter All-Pro Team
Through four weeks of action, Jamie Collins looks like the steal of free agency. After two underwhelming seasons with the Cleveland Browns, Collins is playing better than ever with New England. According to Pro Football Focus, Collins “ranks second among all off-ball linebackers in overall grade (86.4)”. PFF goes on to note Collins is one of the most well-rounded players at his position, grading positively against the run, in coverage, and as a pass-rusher.
The former second-round pick played well in his first go-round with the Patriots, but he’s even better now than he was then. Collins has started all four games for New England, recording 3.5 sacks, five quarterback hits, 23 tackles, six tackles-for-loss, and three interceptions, including Week 4’s game-clinching turnover.
At age 32, Devin McCourty is in the midst of what could be the best football he’s ever played. The two-time Pro Bowl selection has done a masterful job of taking away the deep part of the field while holding up in run and coverage duties. According to Pro Football Focus, McCourty “ranks second behind [Micah] Hyde in overall grade (89.4) and tied for first with Jamal Adams in coverage grade (90.1) among qualifying safeties”.
McCourty currently leads the league with four interceptions through the first four games. His four interceptions are already his most since 2012 (five), and he’s on pace to shatter his career-high of seven set in 2010. It’s worth noting that McCourty played cornerback in 2010 and parts of 2012, so his four interceptions are already the most he recorded as a full-time safety.
McCourty’s added on an additional five passes defended while recording 13 tackles. Stats don’t tell the fully story with McCourty, as his phenomenal range and instincts deter quarterbacks from trying to stretch the field vertically.
Tom Brady was PFF’s top quarterback through three weeks of action, but an ugly Week 4 caused him to fall in the rankings. Right now, Carson Wentz is the First-Team All-Pro while Dak Prescott earned second-team honors. Brady should have every chance to reclaim the top spot with a favorable upcoming schedule.
The Patriots have the best secondary in football, but McCourty is the only player to make PFF’s First- or Second-Team. Stephon Gilmore remains elite, Jonathan Jones is playing the best football of his career, Jason McCourty is his usual reliable self, and J.C. Jackson made an impressive second-year jump. Each player could start for most teams, but apparently just fall short of earning All-Pro nods.
Embed from Getty Images