A year ago at this time, Jason McCourty was recovering from the shock of being on an 0-16 Browns team. Now he is a starter on the team favored to win the Super Bowl.
ATLANTA Jason McCourty's workload barely changed from 2017, when he started for the Cleveland Browns.
Only three 2017 Browns logged more snaps on defense than McCourty's 899. With his new team in 2018, he played 834 downs.
Work in general, on the other hand, changed a ton.
In 2017, McCourty had a hand in the second 0-16 season in NFL history. In 2018, which has spilled into 2019, he starts at cornerback for the team favored to win the Super Bowl. His new team is New England.
Yes, he's fired up. Yes, he carries scars.
"It was a lot of suffering last year ... a lot," McCourty said from the Hyatt Regency, where the Patriots are holed up in anticipation of battling the Rams Sunday.
McCourty, 31, had been with the Titans for eight years when the Browns signed him on May 16, 2017. It was a favor to the new defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, who had spent some time coaching McCourty in Nashville.
In fact, McCourty's arrival foreshadowed the end of Joe Haden's time in Cleveland. The top three defensive backs taken in the 2010 draft were Haden (No. 7 overall, Browns), Kareem Jackson (No. 20 overall, Texans) and McCourty's twin brother Devin (No. 27 overall, Patriots).
In March of 2018, new Browns GM John Dorsey did Jason McCourty a favor by trading him to the Patriots, where he has joined his brother as a fixture in the secondary.
McCourty hated the 2017 Browns' constant losing. He didn't hate Cleveland.
"You learn things from adversity,' he said. "It brought us closer together in that locker room.
"Things happen for a reason. You learn something from everything and move forward. It tested your faith. It helped you understand how important your faith is."
McCourty said he stays in touch with several former Browns teammates.
"I talked to (Christian) Kirksey throughout the season," he said. "Emmanuel Ogbah reached out after we beat Kansas City and were heading to the Super Bowl.
"I was one of the older guys in the locker room when I was there, so we had some fun with that. They called me Uncle Max."
In New England, McCourty is getting his first chance to see first hand what a franchise quarterback can do for a team. While he was in Tennessee, the Titans never went better than 9-7 with a mish-mosh of QBs including Vince Young, Kerry Collins, Matt Hasselbeck, Jake Locker, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Zach Mettenberger, Charlie Whitehurst and finally Marcus Mariota.
In Cleveland, he watched then-rookie DeShone Kizer go 0-15. He has come to the conclusion an elite quarterback gives a team a chance. He is impressed by what Baker Mayfield gave the Browns during their 7-8-1 season.
"(Mayfield) played out of his mind this season," McCourty said. "He's a rookie stepping in, making plays. Obviously, they made a ton of improvement in the organization. I wish those guys the best."
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