After a sensational rookie season that saw him earn a starting nod in the Pro Bowl, Devin McCourty's second year did not start nearly as well. Going against two big, physically gifted receivers in Miami's Brandon Marshall and San Diego's Vincent Jackson, McCourty gave up his share of plays.
Bill Belichick said McCourty has played as well as any player on the defense through two games, but the corner's play has still been a major topic of conversation in the early going.
So, this week's Samsonite Make Your Case involves McCourty. Is it time to be concerned about a sophomore slump?
PFW's Andy Hart says yes ...
My concerns with McCourty's play go back to the third week of the preseason in Detroit. I found it strange that not only did Matthew Stafford not seem to be avoiding throwing the Pro Bowl corner's way, he seemed to be targeting him. Worse yet, it was with Nate Burleson and not Megatron.
After a tremendous rookie season filled with seven interceptions I thought teams might throw away from McCourty. But he's been targeted by Stafford, Chad Henne and Philip Rivers over the last month. Sure he faced two good receivers in Marshall and Jackson to open the season. Good, but not great. It wasn't Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald or the aforementioned Calvin Johnson. I expected the Pro Bowler McCourty to be New England's No. 1 corner. I expected him to be competitive each week, regardless of the opposition. I expected him to make his fair share of plays, even if he gave some up.
So far, it's been pretty ugly. Jackson had a career-day against New England's defensive captain and one of the team's few supposedly proven playmakers on defense. Call it a sophomore slump. Maybe the book and film are out on McCourty's weaknesses. Call it an aberrational stretch against some pretty good competition. I just hope it's not too long before we're calling the current stretch of ugly play a thing of the past. But right now I have to be honest, I'm very much concerned.
PFW's Paul Perillo says no ...
I watched McCourty last year and I don't believe there was anything fluky about what he accomplished. He was targeted from the very first play of the season when he broke up a deep ball intended for Terrell Owens against Cincinnati and stood up to pretty much every challenge. He showed great ball skills and a willingness to get physical with receivers.
Now I'm to believe he's lost those skills overnight? Not a chance. McCourty struggled in the first two games for sure, but it's too early to call him a one-year wonder. His confidence appears shaken a bit and the only thing that will remedy that situation is making a few plays. He won't always be taking on 6-5 monsters every week, either.
The bottom line for me is McCourty is too good to struggle for very long. If teams keep targeting him they will eventually pay, and when that happens arguments like this one will appear quite silly.
Now it's the fans turn to cast their vote in this week's Samsonite Make Your Case poll question.