McCourty, safety & DB combinations

November, 2, 2012
11/02/12
12:00
PM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- In the immediate aftermath of the Patriots' victory over the Jets on Oct. 21, Bill Belichick could have said that he had to look at the tape.

Instead, he trusted his eyes and went with an initial instinct when it came to Devin McCourty's performance at safety.

"I thought he did a pretty solid job from what I could see. We’ll take a little closer look at it [but] I thought the deep part of the field was more secure than it’s been," the coach said.

McCourty has now played two straight games at safety, both wins, leading some to wonder if the switch should be permanent. The acquisition of cornerback Aqib Talib has fueled that line of thinking.

In speaking with reporters Thursday, safeties coach Brian Flores praised McCourty's smooth transition.

"It says that he’s a selfless player who just wants to do whatever he can to help the team win," he said. "I think Devin is always selfless. He has all the traits -- he communicates, he’s a focused player, he’s smart, he does a lot of things well. He can make that transition, a lot of guys can’t. I’m happy to have him."

How much longer Flores will have McCourty remains the question, so here is what needs to asked: What is the Patriots' best defensive backfield combination?

The more you analyze it, the choices are pretty simple. Lock Talib in at one cornerback spot, and then the parts shuffle depending on where McCourty lands.

Playing it straight up
Cornerback-1: Aqib Talib
Cornerback-2: Devin McCourty
Safety-1: Patrick Chung
Safety-2: Steve Gregory
Note: CB Kyle Arrington or CB Alfonzo Dennard plays the slot. S Tavon Wilson to the dime.

McCourty belongs at safety
Cornerback-1: Aqib Talib
Cornerback-2: Alfonzo Dennard/Kyle Arrington
Safety-1: Devin McCourty
Safety-2: Patrick Chung/Steve Gregory
Note: One of the starting safeties -- Chung or Gregory -- is demoted to accommodate McCourty at safety. Dennard vs. Arrington for No. 2 corner spot.

YOUR TURN: Which combination do you think fits best for the Patriots? Share your thoughts in the comments section of this blog entry.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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