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This Patriots Player Is Making It All Happen On Defense This Season

The Patriots have had a great defensive season, and Sunday’s 26-3 beatdown of the Colts was the best of the lot. The Patriots nullified essentially everything the Colts had to throw at them, and were ravenous in the front seven, sacking Sam Ehlinger a whopping nine times. Matt Judon has been at the center of this, and we look into what’s spurring his awesome season.

A Statistical Look At Judon For The Patriots This Season

Judon is way more than just his numbers, but even what appears on a stats sheet is extremely impressive when it comes to Judon. In nine games so far, he has had 11.5 sacks, a mark that not only leads the team, but also leads the entire NFL. He’s well on pace to beat his career high from last year of 12.5, a season that brought him to the pro bowl.

Even more impressive about his performance is that he has had more games with multiple sacks (three) than games with no sacks (two), even though he’s the focal point of most offensive game plans. By forcing a fumble and deflecting three passes, he’s also found other ways to get involved in the defensive framework. He has rebounded well from a frustrating end to last year, one where he only recorded 3.5 sacks in the last eight regular season games, none in the last three games, and no sacks in the playoff game against the Bills.

Beyond The Stats: Why Is Judon Having Such An Awesome Season For The Patriots?

Looking at Judon’s play makes the hard-to-believe stats make sense and highlights that his fundamental strengths make it so that his production is sustainable. First of all, he’s showing the same strengths that led him to success in the first half of last year. He’s quick off the line, and it’s obvious from his tape that he starts out winning most of his matchups. It’s an uphill battle from there to stop him, and his speed, power and agility make that fairly difficult.

Last year, the best solution that offensive lineman could find was blocking high and holding Judon just enough to avoid being flagged. And with this schematic switch across the league as a strategy against not just Judon but a large number of defensive ends with similar styles, Matt had a hard time getting sacks, and the Patriots’ defense as a whole struggled with his lack of pruction, which became very apparent in the Bills game.

This season, that’s not working, though. Judon seems to have improved his awareness and motor. One of the biggest changes I’ve noticed his footwork, and he’s able to keep a steady push by continually moving his feet. He uses spins and changes in direction as well to gain a favorable position, and has become much harder to block than he already was.

One of the biggest things that the Patriots have gotten out of Judon is his role as a decoy. While he’s been plenty active in the defense himself, the amount of attention he draws has certainly opened things up for players like Josh Uche, Deatrich Wise, etc… to be able to get to the quarterback, and as a result, the Patriots have had a very complete, well-rounded pass rush.

The Bottom Line

Judon is legitimately making a case for defensive player of the year in 2022, and more importantly, because of his dominance and improvement, the defense as a whole is playing at a very high level. If this can be sustained through the rest of the season, watch out for the Patriots come playoff time.

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