FOXBORO – In order for things to work the way they are being forecast in the Patriots secondary, the onus is on Devin McCourty.
That’s according to Rodney Harrison who, in a wide-ranging analysis/diatribe delivered Friday, pointed the finger at McCourty as being the key to everything.
“Devin McCourty has to step up and be that leader,” said Harrison, the former Patriots safety now an analyst for NBC Sports. “I know it’s a contract year for him but instead of just worrying about money, he has to take over that secondary as a safety. Cornerback is relegated to one side of the field. The safety sees the whole field, Devin Mccourty, I expect him to come out and say, ‘Hey, you guys are new, I know everyone’s excited about you…’ But McCourty has to have professional pride and say, ‘This is my secondary. You guys are coming here and I’m gonna get everyone lined up and we’re gonna get it done.”
McCourty’s given no outward indication that this being the final year of his contract is even on his radar. Whether Harrison was just riffing or feels it is a distraction wasn’t immediately clear.
Harrison did say that he believes McCourty is capable of taking the kind of control a player like, well, Harrison used to take. But, “he just has to step outside his comfort zone.”
“Sometimes that’s what it takes,” he said. “Sometimes it takes getting in Darrelle Revis’ face. I don’t think he’ll have to do that because I think Darrelle is a natural leader.”
Apprised of Harrison’s comments, McCourty said, “I don’t think any player goes into the season and doesn’t want to get better. Having some success last year, of course I want to go out there and do better this year. That’s the goal of this offseason.
“I’m an older guy who’s been here,” he pointed out. “This is now my fifth year. With Revis and [Brandon] Browner, it’s their first year here. Logan (Ryan’s) second year here. [Alfonzo] Dennard’s [third], Tavon’s third. I’m that guy that’s been here a while and I do feel that leadership role as being a captain. If I can make sure everyone’s on the same page, we have a shot to be a really good secondary. This year’s a perfect year to go out and do that. I don’t make a big deal of it. It’s just in my job description as a leader of the defense.”
Asked if its difficult having the alumni peeking over his shoulder, McCourty replied, “I think it’s an honor anytime I get to talk to those guys. Whether it be about football or just chopping up on the sideline. Those guys laid the platform before us. It’s an honor to be in the presence of guys who’ve done what you want to do.”