Stephon Gilmore has reached a new level with the New England Patriots.
Sure, he earned a Pro Bowl selection with the Buffalo Bills in 2016, prompting Bill Belichick to hand him a lucrative contract in free agency, but the talented cornerback has evolved into an NFL superstar since joining the Patriots.
So, why exactly has Gilmore improved in New England after spending his first five seasons in Buffalo?
Well, according to the 2012 first-round pick, it all comes down to stability.
?Me in Buffalo, the first five years, I had four different defensive coordinators, three different head coaches, so I was kind of trying to learn each and every year,” Gilmore said Sunday night on the “Double Coverage Podcast” with Patriots teammates Devin McCourty and Jason McCourty, as transcribed by WEEI.com. “Once I got to New England, I got some consistency and the same guys around, same coaches. I feel like that is why my game took off more.”
Gilmore, who has added two more Pro Bowl nods to his résumé in three seasons with New England, is coming off a 2019 campaign in which he earned the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award. The 29-year-old has blossomed into a true shutdown corner, making him an invaluable member of the Patriots’ defense.
?It is tough every week going against the best guy,” Gilmore said. “(You can?t) have one play that you slack off. I try and focus on each and every play and try not to let my team down. Going in each and every week, you know the ball is coming your way — that is the thing you do know because you?re covering the best guy. Sometimes being on another guy, you know the ball might not come your way, but you still play hard. When you?re covering the best guy, the ball can come to you every single play, so that is the thing that drives me each and every week.”
Gilmore, a two-time First-Team All-Pro, recently secured a spot on the Patriots’ 2010s All-Decade Team. To say he’s made good on the five-year, $65 million contract he signed with New England before the 2017 season would be an understatement based on his production to this point.