- Bill Williamson, ESPN Staff Writer
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There are few people alive, if any, who have a better grasp on defensive play than New England coach Bill Belichick.
He is widely considered a defensive mastermind and the preeminent defensive mind in the game today.
Thus, when I read his insight into the play of Denver cornerback Champ Bailey, it jumped off the page. Reporters recently asked Belichick his general thoughts of Bailey. Belichick’s response was fascinating. He said Bailey may be the only cornerback in the game who has the ability to cover any type of receiver. Check it out:
“To me, he’s one of the few corners in the league that really can match up against anybody. He matches up against the Andre Johnsons of the world, the big, strong, physical, fast guys. Then he’ll match up against quick, real good route running, quick receivers, guys like that, too. [It] doesn’t really make any difference. You can watch him match up against whoever they want to put him on, whether it’s Mike Wallace or whether it’s Calvin Johnson, through the years; I’m not just talking about this year.
"At times, he’s been on tight ends, like when he would be on (Tony) Gonzalez back in the day and things like that. So, I think he’s really capable of being physical and standing in there and banging with the big guys. He’s got enough quickness and length with the little guys to match their quickness and give them a problem and stay with them, or if he gets his hands on them and jams them, he can destroy the route right off the bat. He’s a very instinctive player, so he has a good sense of what the guy is trying to do and what their tendencies are and things like that. He’s on a lot of routes just because he’s experienced and he’s smart. I think he can cover, I’d say there aren’t too many corners in the league – it would be hard to think of who the next one would be – who like him could match up as well against any type of receiver. Some guys do well against some type of players and have a little trouble with another type of guy. It looks like to me like he does a pretty good job against anybody – on whoever the other team’s best receiver is, if they want to match him up, which sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. They don’t always match him but at times they will.
"He can match them or not match them or he can take whoever comes out and do a pretty good job with it. Man, zone, he’s a good Cover-2 corner, he’s a good one-on-one corner, he’s a good zone corner, tackles well, he’s a good run-force corner, he’s pretty much a prototype corner in terms of having a full set of skills. Does everything well, plays the ball well, very good hands, but he’s a strong tackler and a good run-force player, too.”
That is unbelievable analysis of a future Hall of Fame player by a future Hall of Fame coach. Belichick often catches criticism for not being insightful in his media responses, but this is brilliant information.
11hEric D. Williams