Often times, media types stereotype about certain players. Chad Pennington? Great leader and teammate; noodle arm. Randy Moss? Possibly the greatest natural talent at his position, but not dedicated enough to make use of it consistently throughout his career. Eli Manning? Boy, he's got to be sick of hearing "Peyton's brother", and he won't - not until he takes the Giants deep into the playoffs.
Stereotypes have been applied to Bills CB Terrence McGee as well. Oh, he's one of the game's most explosive kick returners, but he'll never be more than a #2 corner at best. I'm here to tell you tonight, folks, that that pigeon-hole is incorrect.
Passing Stat Exam with Flying Colors
2007, to this point, has proven to be McGee's best season as a professional. Finally out of the shadow of former Bill Nate Clements, McGee has quietly enjoyed a stellar season as Buffalo's top cover man. McGee ranks fourth on the team with 61 tackles; an absurd 54 of those didn't require the aid of a teammate. That tackle total is good enough to rank him number 12 among cornerbacks this season - and he may, in fact, be Buffalo's most consistent tackler defensively. His interception totals are not elite - he has just two picks this year, both of which sealed wins - but he has recorded 20 pass break-ups, good for fourth overall in the NFL.
What's most impressive about his ability to break up passes is that he's doing it without any help from his teammates. The three men ahead of him - San Diego's Antonio Cromartie, Arizona's Roderick Hood and New England's Asante Samuel - play on defenses that rank near the top of the league in sacks (SD is 6th with 32, NE is 8th with 31, ARI is 12th with 29). Pressure on the quarterback is a big precursor to making plays in the secondary; it makes McGee's pass break-ups total all the more impressive, therefore, when you factor in that Buffalo ranks dead last in the NFL with 14 sacks this season. McGee is making these plays completely of his own accord. The lack of a pass rush also explains why Cromartie, Hood and Samuel have superior interception numbers (8, 4 and 6 respectively).
McGee Gives Bills' D Stability
More important than his individual success, however, has been McGee's value to a defense that has been decimated by injury. McGee missed one game this season, so he was part of the injury bug early, but outside of that game, he's been as consistent as a #1 cornerback can be. We've used the lack of a pass rush to excuse the lack of big plays from Donte Whitner; McGee deserves that type of backing as well. We won't begin to see just how good he is until the Bills can generate more push up front. There's talk that Angelo Crowell is becoming an elite defender; I'm of the belief that McGee is soon to follow in his footsteps.
For now, ignore the stereotypes being placed on McGee. Contrary to popular belief, McGee is proving that he is, in fact, capable of manning a #1 corner spot in this league. He's a good fit for this defense, an even better fit in the locker room, and one of Buffalo's most valuable players. Believe the hype you're hearing from me - this young man is on his way to becoming a top-notch NFL cornerback.