The New England Patriots‘ pass rush was a glaring weakness last season, but that figures to change in a big way in 2021.
Not only did the Patriots sign proven stars in Matt Judon and Kyle Van Noy, but they added Christian Barmore and Ronnie Perkins through the draft.
They’ll join a group that already flaunted impact players like Deatrich Wise, Lawrence Guy, Josh Uche, and Chase Winovich. You could even throw Dont’a Hightower, who’s compiled 25.5 sacks over his career, into the mix.
In other words, New England can throw a bunch of different looks at opposing offenses this season after they were largely a one-trick pony in 2020.
You know what could really transform their pass rough, though? If Uche piggybacks off his dominant camp and preseason.
Uche is highly regarded by his teammates, and Hightower threw some big praise his way by comparing him to the Patriots’ biggest offseason signing.
Dont’a Hightower sees a little Matt Judon in Josh Uche.
That’s a spicy take from Hightower, and you know what? We’re totally on board. While Uche is more dependent on his speed than brute strength to beat would-be blockers and Judon uses a combination of both to generate pressure, each player absolutely flourishes lining up on the edge of the defensive line.
Uche struggled with injuries as a rookie, but he showed promise in his limited opportunities, racking up seven QB hits and 10 pressures over 178 snaps.
Clearly motivated to prove himself to Bill Belichick, the 2020 second-rounder attended Von Miller’s pass-rushing summit this offseason.
Amazingly enough, Uche is already seeing results. He’s been one of the Patriots’ standout players of the offseason and continued to prove that in Thursday’s scrimmage against the Giants, where he was borderline unblockable.
After missing Wednesday’s practice with an undisclosed injury, Uche compiled three sacks and drew a holding penalty that would’ve resulted in a fourth sack.
It might be time to start buying into the hype, Patriots fans.
We know Uche didn’t entirely come through as a rookie when New England’s pass rush was non-existent, but we can attribute that to injuries. If you remember, he started the year on injured reserve with an ankle injury and didn’t make his debut until Nov. 1. After that, though, he showed promise. Fans wanted more.
For an incoming draftee looking to make an impression on Belichick, that’s the last thing Uche needed, so we’re giving him a clean slate heading into Year 2.
That’s a good thing for Uche, because he’ll likely have the luxury of playing opposite Judon, his apparent clone — but just a few inches shorter and about 20 pounds lighter — according to Hightower.