By: Ian Logue
Many people have been talking about the play of Kyle Arrington so far this season, with some even wondering if he’s really as good as the numbers he’s been putting up through the first ten games of this season.
It may be better to be lucky than good, but Kyle Arrington is proving he’s more the latter as this season has gone on. (FILE:Icon/SMI)
Some make the argument that he’s been good in coverage but has been somewhat lucky with several of his league-leading seven interceptions. However, for those who are starting to doubt what he’s doing on the field, you’ll have to take a step back and realize one big thing.
He’s making the plays when each of those opportunities comes his way.
He grabbed two more interceptions Monday night during the Patriots 34-3 win over Kansas City, and whether some of his critics want to admit it or not, there’s definitely a positive trend forming with the Patriots defensive back.
When the ball is near him and he’s had a chance to make a play on it, that’s exactly what he’s done. It’s worked out well for his football team, since the result has been the fact he’s been doing a good job of creating turnovers.
Even Patriots head coach Bill Belichick acknowledged that there have been guys who have had opportunities to make plays and haven’t, while Arrington has. We saw an example Monday night on a play that defensive back Antwaun Molden didn’t make, with the ball going right through his hands on what appeared to be a potential interception.
Those are the plays we’re seeing Arrington make, and he’s made the most of each ball that has come his way all season. Clearly he’s doing something right.
“It looked like two of them were on tipped balls, and Kyle’s been very opportunistic this year being around the ball a lot,” said Belichick after the game. “And when you’re around it and close to it, then those are the kind of plays you make. ”
“Like I said, the closer you are to the ball, the more chance you have of getting it. But quick hands, quick reactions, and Kyle’s ability to…look, we’ve seen plenty of those dropped too so, you’ve got to give him credit for making the play and being close enough that when the receiver bobbled it he was able to come up with it.”
Obviously part of the success comes from being in the right place at the right time, which is something Arrington has done consistently well throughout the season. He’s not a guy who you’ll see out of position, and he’s arguably been their best cornerback throughout the year while Devin McCourty has battled through a sophomore slump.
He’s done a great job of making good decisions, and obviously you can’t make a play unless you’re near the football. Fortunately for New England he’s been able to make each one of them, and unlike a couple of his teammates, the ball doesn’t fall out of his grasp once he gets his hands on it.
“You try to be a very opportunistic defense and when plays like that present themselves, you just capitalize on them,” said Arrington. “If I can get in the endzone one of these times that’d be good too.”
If he keeps playing like this, a trip to Hawaii could eventually be in his future. Some of his critics had doubted that he’d have that opportunity, but if he continues to play the way that he has been, it’s going to be tough to make the argument that he doesn’t deserve to go. Following Monday night’s win he’s currently two picks ahead of the rest of the pack, with numbers that are comparable to guys like Green Bay’s Charles Woodson. Woodson is right behind him with five interceptions, and the two are similar in tackles (Arrington has 42 while Woodson has 45) and passes defensed (Arrington has 10 while Woodson has 12).
Woodson has been a perennial Pro Bowler during his career, and made it last year after having picked off just two passes. Taking the numbers into account, it’s tough to make the argument that Arrington isn’t worthy of the same honor. Arrington has also already matched McCourty’s rookie total of 7, which earned him a trip to last year’s Pro Bowl.
How that all plays out remains to be seen. For now the veteran defensive back feels that the goal is simply to try and come out each week and continue working on getting better. Arrington points out that as long as he and his teammates keep focusing on improving and playing for eachother, the rest will take care of itself.
“I think we’re all pretty…we’re not satisfied, but we like the direction that we’re going,” said Arrington. “But we just keep preparing, stay focused, and come out and just play for eachother, and play hard like that for sixty minutes I think we’ll be in pretty good shape down the road.”