Thursday, December 13, 2012

New England Patriots score big with Aqib Talib gamble

The New England Patriots have been the NFL’s Betty Ford Clinic rehabbing talented players that many thought were lost and also losing a few battles along the way.

After hits and misses with the likes of Randy Moss and Albert Haynesworth, the team’s latest project has come in the form of former No.1 draft pick Aqib Talib.

The cornerback showed flashes of brilliance in Tampa Bay but found himself on the wrong side of both the law and the league’s front office on numerous occasions.

New England traded for him in early November as he was in the midst of serving a four-game suspension for a violating the league’s PED policy.

Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik told Sports Illustrated’s Peter King the reasoning why they let a blooming shutdown corner go for just a fourth-round draft pick.

“I think there’s a lot of facets that go into every decision, as you know, that we make as an organization,” Dominik said on November 13.  “And I think every team out in the league is trying to look for a way to improve their product and get better.

And for us, with Talib, that really was a team decision.  And it was one of those ones where you kind of sat back and looked at the small picture and big picture. And I knew internally, and talked to [head coach] Greg [Schiano] about it, that we weren’t going to sign Talib back at the end of the season.

And I know that every season you only have so much opportunity to help this football team now, this year. And I think Aqib Talib is a talented football player, and obviously so do the Patriots, but we have also gone 4-1 without Aqib Talib here. And we weren’t lighting it up on the pass defense while he was here. “

A change of scenery must have done him good. When Talib has been featured as a Patriot, he has energized a secondary that was hanging on the term terrible.

That was more than evident than when he dominated Pro Bowl wideout Andre Johnson during the Patriot’s blowout win over the Texans.

Talib injured his hip during the contest but it has not believed to be a serious injury.

When prodded for a status report Patriots coach Bill Belichick spoke highly of what he has done so far.

I thought Aqib did a good job,” Belichick told the Boston Herald. “I think he’s done a good job for us. He works hard. I really like him. I like the way he prepares. I like the way he competes.

Belichick went on to discuss whether or not Talib will be matched up in man coverage against the enemy’s moving forward.

“As far as the (one-on-one) matchups go, we’ve done that from time to time. It depends on what the matchups are, what the game plan is. We can do it or we cannot do it. I don’t think it’s that big of a thing.”

Talib’s teammates have taken to him as well.

“I think his ability as a football player to learn things, new concepts — just like everyone else out there — enables us to do those things,” defensive back Devin McCourty said.

It seems that Talib has found a professional home.

Adrian Glover

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