Bill Belichick explains why Champ Bailey can ‘match up against anybody’ in the NFL
|10.06.12 at 1:36 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Wes Welker knows how hard it’s going to be to get open on Sunday against the Broncos, especially when perennial Pro Bowl corner Champ Bailey is matched up against him.
“He’s just a great ball player,” Welker said of the 34-year-old corner. “I think he just gets out of bed and he’s just great. He’s very patient and does a good job to get his hands on you and plays really well. Smart guy, instincts, all those things and it’s why he’s stayed around so long.”
There’s been so much focus on future Hall of Fame quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning that it’s easy to overlook another sure-fire Hall of Famer in Bailey. He has more Pro Bowls than any cornerback in history with 11. He is a six-time All-Pro and has been the NFL Defensive Back of the Year twice.
Welker has had a decent amount of success in his battles with him, catching 22 balls in four regular season games for an average of 11.4 yards per reception. He’s averaged just over 64 yards a game but only two touchdowns in the four matchups. He had six catches for 55 yards and a score in the 45-10 romp over Tim Tebow‘s Broncos in the playoffs last January.
“Just have to be very precise and keep him on his toes and make sure you’re really mixing it up on him and being physical and doing things necessary to get open,” Welker said of what a receiver must do against the decorated corner.
Bill Belichick, given the opportunity, provided great insight on just what makes Bailey one of the best to have played the position.
“I would start by just saying with Champ, to me he’s one of the few corners in the league that really can match up against anybody. He matches up against the Andre Johnsons of the world — the big, strong, physical, fast guys. Then he’ll match up against quick, real good route running, quick receivers, guys like that, too. [It] doesn’t really make any difference. You can watch him match up against whoever they want to put him on, whether it’s Mike Wallace or whether it’s Calvin Johnson, through the years; I’m not just talking about this year.
“At times, he’s been on tight ends, like when he would be on [Tony Gonzalez] back in the day and things like that. So, I think he’s really capable of being physical and standing in there and banging with the big guys. He’s got enough quickness and length with the little guys to match their quickness and give them a problem and stay with them, or if he gets his hands on them and jams them, he can destroy the route right off the bat. He’s a very instinctive player, so he has a good sense of what the guy is trying to do and what their tendencies are and things like that.”
Belichick seconded Welker’s read that Bailey isn’t just physically gifted but also has tremendous intelligence.
“He’s on a lot of routes just because he’s experienced and he’s smart,” Belichick said. “I think he can cover, I’d say there aren’t too many corners in the league – it would be hard to think of who the next one would be – who like him could match up as well against any type of receiver. Some guys do well against some type of players and have a little trouble with another type of guy. It looks to me like he does a pretty good job against anybody – on whoever the other team’s best receiver is, if they want to match him up, which sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. They don’t always match him but at times they will.
“He can match them or not match them or he can take whoever comes out and do a pretty good job with it. Man, zone, he’s a good Cover-2 corner, he’s a good one-on-one corner, he’s a good zone corner, tackles well, he’s a good run-force corner, he’s pretty much a prototype corner in terms of having a full set of skills, does everything well, plays the ball well, very good hands, but he’s a strong tackler and a good run-force player too.”
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