What do we know about Champ?
- Spent most of the season on the bench with a Lisfranc foot injury
- Been played exclusively in sub package situations from the slot position
- Can still cover in tight spaces, is still a superb tackler
On 1st and 2nd down you're going to get a lot of two back and two TE sets from New England. I can tell you already that FB James Develin is not a receiving threat. He's been targeted 4 times all season. For that matter TE Hoomanawanui is not much of a threat (18 targets) nor is Matthew Mulligan (3 targets). In two back sets the Patriots used Julian Edelman and Kenbrell Thompkins almost exclusively.
Should he play on "base downs?"
He certainly could. If you stick DRC on Julian Edelman you can neutralize that part of the passing game, and Tom Brady trusts Julian Edelman far more than Kenbrell Thompkins. As far as Thompkins is concerned, he's a big body that didn't show a lot of burst or acceleration. I wouldn't mind seeing Champ guard him but in my opinion it is unnecessary.
A wild card is rookie Aaron Dobson. This kid can burn and if he is being played opposite of Julian Edelman, there is no way I would want Champ to be covering him. He has been fighting a nagging ankle injury and did not play at all against the Colts on Saturday.
DRC on Edelman OR DRC on Dobson
Tony Carter on Dobson
Kayvon Webster on Kenbrell Thompkins
On 3rd downs you're going to see the Pats spread it out and use a lot of 11 personnel with a WR trio of Edelman, Amendola, and Thompkins. Again I can see Dobson playing in place of Thompkins if he is healthy. But just taking this core group of players, I think you need Champ on the inside in sub-packages. This is where Brady likes to attack. They will run a lot of pick plays designed to get Shane Vereen open in the flat and even open on some wheel routes. I'm going to take a detailed look in another post at this tendency. Other than that, attacking the deep parts of the field with Amendola and Edelman is not something the Broncos should fear.
On base downs, the Patriots do not have a stretch the field vertical threat that would give Champ Bailey issues. He could certainly play outside on base downs so long as Aaron Dobson were not in the game.
If you can say there is no threat to Champ, I feel confident that either Carter or Webster could fill this role and do a fine job as well. If that is the case why play Champ more than necessary? The most value the Broncos will gain from him is in the slot on 3rd downs.
As far as skill set, Kayvon Webster is going to struggle more against the smaller shifty guys because he has shown a tendency to not be able to get control of his momentum shifting quickly from one direction to the other. He still has good vertical speed and has proven to be a physical corner. I would feel fine about him covering either Thompkins or Dobson.
Tony Carter is probably the fastest DB we have in the rotation. Against shifty guys my fear is his tendency to grab and use his hands on the receiver. He draws far too many penalties but he would be someone to use against Aaron Dobson or Danny Amendola.
Bottom line, playing Champ full time and shifting someone else inside on sub-packages is not necessarily the best idea. Champ has yet to prove he can play a full game yet. I like what Del Rio has done with him and he has done a fine job in that role.
The Patriots simply do not have the receiving weapons to put fear in my mind that Tony Carter or Kayvon Webster couldn't handle those outside assignments.
Leave Champ where he is.