Stephon Gilmore was playing on another level this past month, and his efforts did not go unnoticed. He was AFC Defensive Player of the Month for the month of October after recording seven pass breakups, two interceptions, and eleven tackles. This is the second consecutive month a player on the Patriots‘ defense has received this award. In the month of September, Devin McCourty was named AFC Defensive Player of the Month. The Patriots‘ defense continues to prove that they are the real deal.
Stephon Gilmore is regarded as the best corner in football by players, fans, and analysts around the NFL. He was profootballfocus.com’s highest graded corner last season and has continued his high level of play this season. New England’s defense has benefitted from a favorable schedule through the first half of the season, but Gilmore is tasked with shutting down the number one receiver each week and has done a tremendous job this season. This list of receivers includes guys like Odell Beckham Jr, JuJu Smith Schuster, and Robby Anderson. These are all dangerous receivers who require a lot of attention against any defense.
Gilmore is a lockdown man-to-man corner who Bill Belichick and the rest of the defensive coaching staff can rely to neutralize opposing number one receivers, which takes a lot of pressure off of the rest of the defense. If they know they do not have to worry about double-teaming receivers or even having safety help over the top, the rest of the defense can focus on everybody else on the field. The trust that New England has in their secondary allows them to play a very aggressive style of defense, which can be lethal if the secondary can get the job done in man coverage.
We are two months into the regular season, and the Patriots‘ defense has been nothing short of spectacular. I suspect McCourty and Gilmore will not be the only two players on the defense to earn this award this season. Other potential candidates are guys like Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, or Dont’a Hightower. It’s time for the Boogeymen to be rewarded for their efforts this season as well. As the Patriots enter the second half of the season, it will be interesting to see how well their defense can play against teams who are more dangerous than the teams they played in the first half of the season.