RESEARCH BY PATRICK ROWLEY
The Patriots often assign their No. 2 cornerback and a safety to cover the other team’s top receiver, which means top cornerback Stephon Gilmore goes 1-on-1 with the other team’s No. 2 receiver.
So if healthy, we would expect Gilmore to defend JuJu Smith-Schuster this weekend when the Patriots face the Steelers.
Gilmore has been a workhorse this season, with 515 coverage snaps (fourth among cornerbacks) and 72 times targeted (12th-most). But he’s allowed only 5.4 yards per attempt, eighth-lowest out of just over 100 qualifiers. His deserved-catch percentage is 62 percent, second-lowest among that same group (deserved-catch percentage is essentially completion percentage on catchable passes, with drops counted as catches). His 14 passes defensed are the most in the NFL and more than he had in the last two seasons combined.
In other words, he does a great job at denying plays. A matchup between the two would be a great battle. Smith-Schuster is averaging seven catches per game. Gilmore is allowing just over two per game.