It sounds crazy, but the New England Patriots‘ defensive line is suddenly the most reliable aspect of their defense.
Following the departures of Stephon Gilmore and JC Jackson, the cornerback position has serious question marks. The same can be said for the linebacker rotation after Kyle Van Noy got released and Jamie Collins didn’t re-sign. Even if Dont’a Hightower returns, he’s far from a three-down player at this stage of his career.
The DL is a different story. With Matt Judon looking to build on a Pro Bowl campaign, Christian Barmore fresh off a dominant rookie campaign and veterans Davon Godchaux, Lawrence Guy and Deatrich Wise rounding out the rotation, the Patriots’ defensive front could wreak some serious havoc in 2022.
As far as Barmore is concerned, the 2021 second-round pick is setting higher standards for himself as a sophomore. His main objective? Convert his absurd pressure output — or some of it, anyway — into sacks.
Consider yourselves warned, NFL quarterbacks.
Patriots DL Christian Barmore wants to record more sacks in 2022.
"“Finish the quarterback. That’s really my thing right there,” Barmore told the media on Tuesday when asked where he wants to improve this year. “Finish the quarterback more. And better footwork.”"
The Patriots couldn’t have asked for more from Barmore as a rookie. The Alabama product was arguably New England’s most impactful defender behind Judon, as he finished with a team-high 38 pressures, per Pro Football Focus. Despite routinely dominating his matchup in the trenches, though, it only translated to 1.5 sacks. One of those came in the Pats’ 50-10 route of the Jaguars in Week 17.
It goes without saying Bill Belichick’s defense could use Barmore upping his sack output. Outside of Judon, who finished with 12.5 QB takedowns last season, no one else tallied more than five sacks or nine QB hits (Judon had 25).
While Barmore’s lone individual sack came in a blowout win, the clip offers a glimpse of the game-wrecker he can be if he puts everything together. Look at how he blows through a double team to get to Trevor Lawrence in the backfield.
This is pretty awkward, but Chase Winovich did a great job there to occupy one defender and give Barmore the leverage he needed to finish the play. Barmore obviously has the talent to “finish” any quarterback on his own, but he’ll be even more dominant if his teammates step up and make his job easier.
Either way, Patriots fans have to love hearing that Barmore seemingly wasn’t satisfied with what was widely viewed as an outstanding rookie year.
Look out, NFL.