The New England Patriots bolstered their already impressive linebacker group this offseason. In free agency, New England landed Kyle Van Noy and Matthew Judon to strengthen the linebacker unit for the Patriots. Above all, both Van Noy and Judon are expected to be key players on defense this season.
The Other Linebackers
We know what we’re getting with Van Noy due to his first stint with the team. He’s an established and versatile linebacker who can play up or down while getting to the quarterback. He understands how the Patriots run their defense and has always fit in well with the way Bill Belichick does things.
Judon, on the other hand, is going to be something different that New England hasn’t seen for some time. He’s an animal that Belichick should be looking forward to unleashing throughout the regular season. Judon is great at setting the edge and not allowing himself to get twisted into unsuccessful situations. He’s a great addition to this defense and can be a model for guys like rookie Ronnie Perkins to take note of.
The Pats also have their defensive leader returning this season in Dont’a Hightower. Hightower elected to opt out of last season and is returning fresh for the season ahead. It’ll be great to have him back in the middle of the defense calling the plays while organizing the team. Hightower is the defensive anchor that Belichick has built around for nearly the last nine years.
But What About Chase Winovich?
With an upgraded linebacker group, it leads me to wonder what future Chase Winovich has with the New England Patriots.
In the time that Winovich has been here, we’ve only seen one true skill that he offers the team. Getting after the quarterback. It was once a skill of need in a thinning position when Winovich first arrived. It’s since turned into one of the best position groups the Patriots have to offer.
Here are the current linebackers on the roster who are slightly ahead of Winovich on the depth chart:
- Van Noy
- Ja’Whaun Bentley
- Josh Uche
- Ronnie Perkins
Winovich on the Field!
For Winovich to get on the field, he’s going to have to do it in two ways: while down on the line or on special teams. Playing on the line is a position catered to him as he wants to make plays in the backfield. Winovich wants to sack the quarterback and make tackles resulting in a loss.
In week one against the Miami Dolphins, Winovich only saw 12 defensive snaps (22%) and 11 on special teams (52%). Winovich’s snap count is one of the lowest on the team after the first game. If we’re looking at the defensive line as a whole, New England used seven different players throughout the game:
- Davon Godchaux: 36 snaps (67%)
- Lawrence Guy: 29 snaps (54%)
- Christian Barmore: 26 snaps (48%)
- Deatrich Wise: 25 snaps (46%)
- Carl Davis: 13 snaps (24%)
- Chase Winovich: 12 snaps (22%)
- Henry Anderson: 3 snaps (6%)
Looking at this breakdown, it’s fair to say Winovich can make his strongest impact on special teams rather than defense. However, due to his versatility, Winovich holds more value than the naked eye perceives. Winovich can essentially play all of the linebacker roles, along with defensive end while being down on the line.
Winovich’s determination, paired with his strength and speed, do give him a slight advantage coming off the edge. That is to say, there’s definitely a role for Winovich on the Patriots and it could be in more ways than one. It’s up to the Patriots to figure out how exactly they can best utilize Winovich.
-Justin Trombino (@Trombino20)
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