Many threads on this board are asking versions of the same two questions:
1) Is Aqib Talib a "shutdown" corner?
2) Can Aqib Talib somehow transform the Pats' D (perhaps by taking away the opponent's most explosive receiver) into a "shutdown" defense?
For the sake of "I'll believe it when I see it," I am going to assume the answer to both questions is a healthy, "No." So, then what are we left with?
Hopefully, just a better defense. How much better? I would be THRILLED if the addition of Talib allows the Patriots hold the opposing offense to 3-4 points fewer per game. Put in proper perspective, if one opposing touchdown (per game) can be held to a field goal by having a solid DB in the backfield, it may be all that is required for the NE Pats to taste Lombardi.
We tend to forget with all the yards and big plays that the Pats give up that their offense is as good or better than any other. Since week 10 of the 2010 season, the Pats have lost just two games by more than 4 points, a span of 35 games! (A 25-17 loss to Pitt last year, and the 28-21 playoff loss to the Jets in '10)
So what are we asking for here? We don't need to cut the passing yards total by 100+ yards per game, although that would be nice. But cutting it down by, say, 25 yards per game...just one more stop on 3rd down...just one more TD turned FG...just one more FG attempt just out of reach (forcing a punt) may be all that the Patriots need to turn these 2 and 3 point losses into victories.
Everyone remembers that the Pats won the Lombardi in 01, 03 and 04. Nobody remembers how many yards per game the offense tallied and the defense gave up.
So, if and when we see the Pats D still giving up yards or big plays when Talib is on the field...try to keep it in perspective.
Just one more stop per game.