Stephon Gilmore was just selected for his third Pro Bowl. With the year the cornerback is having, it’s a no-brainer for him to be named a starter for this year‘s AFC defense. He was even selected by some NFL execs as defensive player of the year in an anonymous poll. But even with these honors, there are some that try to argue Gilmore is undeserving of all the hype and whether or not he should be the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year. Let’s dive into the main points many bring up when trying to discount his status.
Bills Mafia is nothing if not passionate, and it’s caused quite the debate over who the best corner in the league is. And they’re not without reason; Tre’Davious White has some impressive stats. White has totaled 6 interceptions, 44 allowed completions on 84 targets, and a passer rating of 43.9 (per Touchdown Wire). The corner has no touchdowns, but he does edge out Gilmore on forced fumbles. Tre’Davious White is certainly having quite the season, but it’s hard to seriously look at the numbers and argue that White’s the better corner. Just for fun, a quick breakdown by player:
Tre’Davious White: 84 targets, 44 receptions allowed, 532 yards, zero touchdowns allowed, six interceptions, zero touchdowns, 32.8 passer rating
Stephon Gilmore: 84 targets, 38 receptions allowed, 444 yards, zero touchdowns allowed, six interceptions, 2 touchdowns, 43.9 passer rating
Numbers wise, while close, Gilmore is the better corner. He’s allowed fewer receptions for fewer yards, has a better passer rating, and has turned two of his interceptions into pick-sixes.
Before the season even started, any success the Pats would have was tarnished by their schedule. Prior to the start of the season, CBS Sports ranked the Bill’s strength of schedule at 24th, and the Patriots tied for 27th with the Giants, Jets, and Rams. Now, pre-season strength of schedule rankings aren’t a fair way to judge players in Week 15, but it shows the cloud that was cast over the Patriots from the start. Only the Washington Redskins were considered to have an easier schedule than the Patriots. And week by week the dominance of the Patriots’ defense was torn down because of the weakness of their opponents. If we’re comparing against Tre’Davious White, easily Gilmore’s closest competition, the strength of schedule should never be a point to stand on. Out of 14 games (subtracting two for the games where they face each other) the Bills’ and Patriots’ schedules are the same save two games each. Where the Patriots played the Texans and the Chiefs, the Bills have played the Titans and the Broncos. Arguably, the Patriots had the tougher of the differing opponents. But when it comes to debates about Gilmore’s talent, the lack of difficulty of his opponents if constantly thrown around as is the teams don’t play nearly identical schedules. With the nearly same exact opponents, Stephon Gilmore is still posting better numbers than his AFC East competitor.
Of course there’s a league full of other corners, but few as dynamic and dominant as Stephon Gilmore and Tre’Davious White. Patriots fans should feel confident that we’ve got the best of the best in Gilly Lock, and the rest of the league would do good to fall into the same mindset.