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Return To Glory? Will Patriots’ Linebackers Be Up To The Challenge In 2022?

Coach Bill Belichick has always been known for his dominant defenses throughout his coaching career. In 2022 he looks for a return to glory at the linebacker position as he retools the defense. This will be an exciting year as we will see the youth movement refuel the unit.

But, sadly, we see old stables at the linebacker position leave the team, such as Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins.

Matthew Judon Looks To Return To Glory

When we last saw Linebacker Matthew Judon, he was at the Pro Bowl with fell teammate quarterback Mac Jones. In 2022 the Patriots need Matthew to be unstoppable and disruptive at his position.

But, Coach Belichick is looking for him to take charge of the defense as a team captain and leader.

He will be taking linebackers entering their careers’ second and third years and teaching them to be as dominant in this league as he has been. Last season after coming from Baltimore, he had a solid year. He played in 17 games registering 53 tackles with 31 solo tackles, 12.5 quarterback sacks, and one pass deflection.

The Patriots will need him to follow up on last year’s performance with a similar or improved year in 2022 for the Patriots to be successful in the AFC East. However, as long as he is the player he was during the first 14 games last season, that shouldn’t be any problem.

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A Potential Draft Steal in 2021

Coach Bill Belichick may have found a diamond in the rough while scouting Chase Winovich and Josh Uche at Michigan. He played in 17 games at Michigan over three seasons accounting for 52 solo tackles with 11 for a loss plus 39 assisted tackles totaling 91 in his college career.

Adding to his dominance were his explosive three quarterback sacks. However, he tore his ACL late in his junior season against Rutgers. While drafted in the fifth round, he was put on injured reserve and red-shirted for the 2021 Patriots season. Instead, he will rely on Matthew Judon to mentor and teach him to regain his form from college and help the Patriots linebacker corps to be dominant.

Josh Uche Hopes Year Three Is The Charm!!

Third-year linebacker Josh Uche is looking for a breakout season as a starter in 2022. After sitting behind Jamie Collins and Donta Hightower, he is the next man up. He also has head coach Bill Belichick in his corner as he said, “I think he is a big piece of our defense.” Last year his play improved as he played in 12 games and accounted for ten solo tackles and two assisted tackles plus three sacks.

Adding to the Linebacker corps are veterans Ja’Whaun Bentley, a proven leader on the team who New England just resigned to a very reasonable deal to stay with the team.

In addition, fellow linebacker Raekwon McMillian, who signed as a free agent last year, unfortunately, spent the year on injured reserve due to a torn ACL. However, McMillian turned heads with his play at camp before his injury. He also played for Brian Flores, so he came in with some system knowledge. Hopefully, he can regain his form and be an impact player.

Linebackers And The Youth Movement In 2022.

Another player in a pivotal season is linebacker Anfernee Jennings who spent all last year on injured reserve. Coming from Alabama, The Patriots took him in the third round of the 2020 draft. In his rookie season, he played 14 games with 16 total tackles and ten solo tackles.

Ronnie Perkins is another player in a crucial year who was selected in the 3rd round of the 2021 draft from Oklahoma. He came to the Patriots with explosive speed and great size at 6’3″ and 247 lbs. and was a solid college player. Unfortunately, with the Patriots, he was hurt most of last year.

The players looking for playing time include newly acquired Mack Wilson and Harvey Langi, proven veterans. Mack Wilson came over in a trade with the Browns for Chase Winovinch. Wilson has some speed and coverage skills that can be useful for passing downs.

In Closing

Coach Bill Belichick has a lot of work to install a dominant defense in 2022. He needs his young players like Uche, McGrone, Jennings, and Perkins to cement a role in the defense and be successful this year. Adding proving Veterans and leaders like Bentley, McMillian, and Judon should make this linebacking corp very exciting to watch and lead the AFC East in 2022.

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