Coming soon to a Patriots game near you.
Browner and the Patriots agreed on a three-year, $17 million deal Friday. Once he completes his four-game drug suspension at the start of this season, the Patriots will have one of the most formidable defensive secondaries in the NFL. Revis is simply the best the NFL has to offer, no matter what Richard Sherman happens to Tweet each night, at the cornerback position. Browner is a legit, 6-foot-4, 220-pound hard-hitting bad-ass.
The Seattle Seahawks steamrolled their way through the NFC and then over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII thanks in large part to their secondary - christened the "Legion of Boom." Belichick has followed Pete Carroll's recipe for success [try writing that, never mind reading it] and has gone all-in when it comes to "playing the pass."
Giving Brady reason to have confidence in the defense will only make him exponentially more efficient and accurate. He'll have less reason to force those deep balls that no longer travel quite as straight as they did back in 2007.
This "Legion of Belichick" gives the Patriots a menacing force downfield. Where just a year ago, New England's secondary was a Twitter joke, it should now lay waste to a sizable portion of the NFL. The Patriots were most susceptible 10-15 yards downfield last season. The emerging star of their secondary was rookie cornerback Logan Ryan. He found himself the beneficiary of opposing QBs who made the mistake of throwing his way and led the team with five interceptions, returning one for a touchdown.
Once Alfonzo Dennard gets out of jail [likely sometime in April] following his DUI arrest while being on probation for hitting a cop outside a bar, and Browner completes his substance-abuse-induced vacation, it will be a sobering realization for the rest of the league that the Patriots are now longer willing to bend, never mind break. The Patriots have Revis, Ryan, Kyle Arrington, Devin McCourty, one guy in jail and another who begins the season on a drug suspension in their defensive secondary. Browner has had 10 interception in his 36 career games. [He served a four-game PED suspension in 2012.] Smells like the makings of the championship contender right there.
New England ranked 26th in the league when it came to yards allowed last season. On 2nd and 7-9 yards to-go in 2013, the Patriots allowed a pass completion 71 percent of the time. Of the 102 times the Patriots faced that situation, 27 times they allowed a pass play of 10 yards or more, resulting in a first down or touchdown. When opponents faced a 3rd-and-7-9 yards to-go against New England, the purest of passing downs in the NFL, opposing quarterbacks had a 103.4 passer rating against the Patriots. In those 38 plays, teams averaged more than a first down, 9.39 yards, on every play.
Revis, at $12 million with a $20 million option for 2015, and Browner to the rescue. Talibistan seems like a million miles away already.
Peyton Manning smote the Patriots in the AFC title game by having the best game of his career, especially given the setting and what was at stake. Aside from being nearly untouched all day, he was able to elevate up and down the field, leaving the Patriots' always a play behind when it came to coverage. No doubt the highlights from that game were first and foremost in the head of Belichick and millions of Patriots fans as NFL free-agency dawned this week.
The Patriots have never enjoyed such early success in the NFL free agency market. Wonderful. Even better that this just happened to occur as Brady's NFL Biological Clock whirs toward its eventual conclusion. It's doubtful the team is finished, either with Vince Wilfork or replacing/keeping Edelman and shoring up the defensive end position.
New England's three Super Bowl championships came with names like Willie McGinest, Tedy Bruschi, Rodney Harrison, Ty Law, Troy Brown, Lawyer Milloy, Mike Vrabel and Richard Seymour sprinkled throughout the defense.
Bringing in a Revis and a Browner is a terrific first couple of steps back in that direction.
Defense wins championships.
Or so at least that's the way Belichick and the Patriots remember it.
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