Patriots questions: Are they safe at safety?

Patriots questions: Are they safe at safety?
May 20, 2014, 2:00 pm
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(AP Images)

There are teams facing questions. And then there are teams facing decisions. The Patriots face decisions. They don’t have to puzzle over who will do what for them in 2014. They know their quarterback and head coach. They know who their best defensive and offensive players will be. They have starting-caliber players at every spot. They know -- before Memorial Day even arrives -- that winning fewer than 10 games and missing the playoffs is a virtual impossibility. So with that in mind, we look at a brief list of decisions that need to be reached. One of those decisions has to do with the team's safeties.

Of the 22 offensive and defensive positions, only one is a spot where you say of the Patriots, “Who the hell are they going to start there??” That position is safety. We know Devin McCourty has one of the jobs locked down. The other? Up in the air. Steve Gregory was released, leaving the Pats with 2013 seventh-rounder Duron Harmon, third-year special teamer Nate Ebner, former second-rounder Tavon Wilson andyoung journeyman Patrick Chung. Stick cornerback Logan Ryan, a second-year DB from Rutgers in the mix, too. Now, this is not a crisis. The Patriots use five and six defensive backs with regularity. With Ryan, McCourty, Darrelle Revis, Alfonzo Dennard, Kyle Arrington and Brandon Browner (once off his suspension) the defense will be able to field enough guys to cover. But we’ve all seen the improvement of McCourty since he became a full-time safety. Some players are meant to play that spot where they are overseeing, communicating, reacting and being -- in essence -- the defense’s security officer. I like the potential of Harmon and Ryan back there. They are smart enough to get the role and both showed ball skills. Chung and Tavon Wilson, I’m not buying on because of inconsistency and -- in Chung’s case -- bad instincts on when to be an enforcer and when to be a security officer. It’s a defensive spot that isn’t necessarily going to make the defense. But with the wrong guy making the wrong decisions, it sure can break it.