BOSTON (CBS) — Johnson Bademosi turned heads with his surprisingly strong performance on defense for the Patriots against the Falcons last Sunday. And if he keeps it up, he could continue to carve out a bigger role in an already-deep secondary.
Bademosi’s sudden emergence could give Bill Belichick a good problem to have with the depth of his defensive backs. The Patriots head coach was asked during his Tuesday conference call about how he knows what to expect when he gives regular snaps on defense to a special teamer like Bademosi, and whether he would stick with said player if he kept playing well.
The question was ostensibly a reference to the decision that Belichick could have on who to play if high-priced cornerback Stephon Gilmore is ready. Part of his lengthy answer was telling, yet quite simple.
“The guys that play the best play the most,” said Belichick. “The guys that don’t play as well continue to keep working until their performance either moves ahead of somebody else’s or they get an opportunity because of circumstances.
“I mean, it’s pretty fundamental the way it works. When the players get that opportunity, then it’s up to them to perform in that situation that they’re called to play on. Depending on how the performance goes, then that will probably either lead to less or more playing time eventually once it declares itself. So, that’s up to each individual player.”
Bademosi played 55 of 57 snaps (96 percent) against the Falcons, the second-most among all Patriots cornerbacks (Malcolm Butler played all 57). His rise, over even second-year corner Jonathan Jones, was no doubt striking, especially considering how well the Patriots ended up playing as a unit.
Gilmore, meanwhile, was inconsistent in his first five games as a Patriot before he suffered a concussion that has kept him out of the last two games. It’s possible that Gilmore resumes his regular role on the defense upon his return, but Bademosi could at least make Belichick’s decision harder if he continues to play well. The head coach knows as well as anyone how to reward players who deliver results and make the most of their opportunities.
“This league’s very competitive, and we know we’re all judged on our performance and our production, so when those opportunities come, you’ve got to take advantage of them,” said Belichick.
Belichick’s comments should come as no surprise. But it means that, as Gilmore gets closer to returning, Bademosi has played himself into the conversation.