Is Meriweather the AFC East’s best?


New+England+Patriots+v+Miami+Dolphins+apG6uWvXI37l.jpg

Brandon Meriweather came under some heat near the end of the 2009 season for his over-aggression in some key spots.

And it was justified. He sold out to stop the run against Carolina, and watched a touchdown pass to Steve Smith go over his head. He came up too hard on Ray Rice on the first play from scrimmage in the wild-card playoff game, and the Ravens’ dynamo scooted past him for an 83-yard touchdown.

But if you look at his body of work from last season, you see a young player starting to come into his own. … Which is the way the guys at Scouts Inc. see it.

Over at ESPN.com, Matt Williamson broke down each secondary in the AFC East, ranking them 1-4. The Patriots came in second. And along with that came a verbal bouquet for Meriweather. He’s seen, by Williamson, as the division’s best safety. Does some of this have to do with Kerry Rhodes’ uneven season? Sure. But still, it shows that Meriweather is starting to be seen as a pretty solid player at that position.

2. New England Patriots

While I give the Buffalo Bills’ set of safeties the nod as the division’s best pair, I’m high on the Patriots’ Brandon Meriweather. He’s the best safety overall in the AFC East. As good as he is at
strong safety, Meriweather and the Patriots would benefit from an
upgrade at free safety. Brandon McGowan is a force against the run, but is too often exposed in coverage. Fellow free safety James Sanders is too ordinary in both facets.

At cornerback, veterans Leigh Bodden and Shawn Springs caught way too much heat for New England’s pass defense issues.
Remember, this is a defense that lacks much of a pass rush. These two
are still starting caliber, particularly Bodden (an unrestricted free
agent).

The younger guys are the problem. Surely they will improve, but Darius Butler, Terence Wheatley and Jonathan Wilhite collectively did little to get excited about in 2009. If Bodden is
retained, the Pats squeak ahead of the Bills as the second-best
secondary in the division. Without Bodden, Buffalo has a distinct
advantage.

The Jets, as you might imagine, topped this list.

But this has long been a trouble spot for the Patriots, and the fact that they’re second in a division with four pretty secondaries shows there’s been progress. Of course, even better if they re-sign Bodden and the young guys develop …

Advertisement
Close
Ski season updates, free from the Boston Globe.
Get the Globe's free newsletter, It's All Downhill, for the latest from the slopes.
Thanks for signing up!
NBA
Bulls suspend Rajon Rondo 1 game
December 5, 2016 | 12:04 PM