Stephon Gilmore’s case for Defensive Player of the Year is building across the NFL community, but the New England Patriots cornerback’s prowess is well-known in Foxboro.
Gilmore had another tremendous day Sunday, intercepting two passes and returning one for a touchdown as the Patriots beat the Cincinnati Bengals going away. It was a throwback to New England’s early-season defensive dominance when it seemed the defense scored every week while stifling the opponents, typically highlighted by Gilmore’s shutdown play at corner.
While the Patriots’ defense no longer is dominating at the historic levels it was in September and October, Gilmore’s play hasn’t skipped a beat. He now has six interceptions on the season, and opposing quarterbacks have a passer rating below 40 when targeting the All-Pro. Gilmore’s teammates — like Kyle Van Noy — have started campaigning for Gilmore to win Defensive Player of the Year, with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady saying Monday morning that Gilmore is among the best to have ever played the position … ever.
“He’s doing such a great job. He’s covering the best players and consistently making plays on the ball, scoring, and he’s done everything you’d ask for a defensive player of the year to do,” Brady said Monday morning WEEI-FM radio in Boston. “His impacts on the game are just huge, so it’s, he’s, you can’t say enough good things about Steph. And not just the things you guys see in the games but how he performs in practice and I think the attitude he takes in practice, his leadership, his toughness.”
Brady, who’s had to go against some other great cornerbacks in practice over the course of his 20-year career in New England, puts Gilmore at or near the top of the list.
“Not only does he play the pass, but he’s great in the run game, too,” Brady continued. “He’s one of the great corners that will go down to ever play this game. We’ve had quite a few of those here, and it’s been a privilege for me to play with a lot of those guys, but Steph is playing as well as anyone who’s ever played the position. It’s been incredible to watch.”
Given the occasional struggles and the stop-and-start nature of the Patriots offense this season, the Patriots still are on the shortlist of Super Bowl favorites thanks in large part to the defense, of which Gilmore is the anchor. And hey, who knows, maybe Gilmore could be the offense’s secret weapon in January — he sure sounds open to the challenge.