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Cosell talks secondary players

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff  November 6, 2011 08:30 AM

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In today's story about the Patriots' pass defense, we talked to NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell - and one of the creators of ESPN's "NFL Matchup" show - on what he believes is ailing New England, which is giving up more than 320 passing yards per game.

Turns out, it's the lack of a pass rush - something fans and media have been saying for at least two years.

Cosell, who watches dozens of hours of game film a week, also talked about some of the Patriots' secondary players.

He believes that Patrick Chung and James Ihedigbo are being miscast in their current roles.

"I think their two starting safeties right now, Chung and Ihedigbo, are ... I think Chung is a better box player than a deep player, and I think Ihedigbo, really, in an ideal situation is more of a situational, sub-package player as opposed to a starting NFL safety," Cosell said.

As for what has been at the root of cornerback Devin McCourty's struggles, even Cosell isn't certain.

"I liked him a lot. In fact, when he came out [of Rutgers last year], he was my number one corner in the draft and I think for the most part he’s a good player," he said. "I don’t see him playing as much press in recent weeks, which is obviously a function of how they’re playing defensively. I personally think he could be a very good press corner, but they don’t seem to play a lot of it.

"You know, one coverage that’s really in vogue in the league right now is what we call ‘man under, two deep’ where you play man-to-man with two deep safeties. They were playing that coverage at times earlier in the year. To not see it against Pittsburgh – or if I saw it, it was very minimal – I think that would be a good coverage for Devin McCourty but obviously Bill [Belichick] doesn’t think that that’s a coverage he wants to play right now, and I can’t tell you why that is.''

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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