There was a time when the Patriots thought they could get away without having an elite cornerback. Asante Samuel left after the 2007 season and Aqib Talib did not arrive in Foxboro until midway through the 2012 season. The Patriots’ standard is winning Super Bowls, and not surprisingly they did not capture a Lombardi Trophy during that time.
When Talib left, the Patriots went out and acquired Darrelle Revis. When Revis left, the Patriots incredibly got Malcolm Butler to elite status. On Thursday, the Pats went out and landed 2016 Pro Bowl corner Stephon Gilmore, who is just entering his prime at the age of 26. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Gilmore was the 10th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, coming out of South Carolina.
“With Gilmore, the upside New England gets is an elite, lock-down cornerback with good size and outstanding athleticism on the outside. After a rough start last year, the former Bill showed those traits in the second half, ending up with a career-high five interceptions on his way to a Pro Bowl nod.”
It remains to be seen how Gilmore will adjust to the Patriots’ “Do your job” culture. Based on a swamp of reports last fall, Gilmore had great issues doing his job in upstate New York with the Bills.
In the Bills blowout loss to the Patriots, of all teams, in Week 8 – Gilmore allowed a 53-yard touchdown to Chris Hogan. Gilmore still had a chance to catch Hogan before he entered the end zone but pulled up instead and began yelling at teammate Jonathan Meeks, Buffalo’s safety.
The Bills’ coaching staff lambasted Gilmore after the game.
“He made a big mistake on that Hogan touchdown,” then-head coach Rex Ryan said of Gilmore (via USA Today). “It wasn’t a great performance on his part.”
Ryan and defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman blamed the play on Gilmore after watching the game film.
“You know, [Gilmore] has a job to do, and we all have a job to do,” Thurman said. “The expectation is that all 11 that are on the field will go out and perform at a level that’s a winning level.”
Early on with the Bills, Gilmore was being compared to Revis – as Ryan’s defensive ace in the hole in Buffalo.
“The guy’s an elite guy, no question about it,” Ryan told The MMQB about Gilmore in August of 2015.