With so many young defensive players on the Patriots this season, Matthew Judon has taken his leadership role to mentor a few talented linebackers.
His dominant performance on the field throughout the season was remarkable, breaking record after record as the weeks went on. It was clear that many of the younger players on the roster, particularly fellow linebackers, were trying to follow his lead. And those closest to him, physically and friendship-wise, have now looked to Judon for mentorship.
When you enter the Patriots’ locker room, you see Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings‘ lockers adjacent to Judon’s. This has led the trio to form a friendship through inciteful communication and the chance to learn from each other.
When speaking to the media earlier this week, Judon was quick to talk about the benefits of working closely together. “(They) sit right next to me in the locker (room). So when we’re watching film between meetings or right before practice or after practice, we’re just talking about stuff we see. Me, (Jennings) and Uche. And that makes us all better, because we all see the game differently.”
As one of the top performers on the Patriots’ defense last year, his fellow linebackers are looking to learn from one of the best. Before signing with New England, Judon had become a significant part of a successful Ravens defense.
He now hopes to share the knowledge he has acquired throughout his career to the guys lining up beside him in an effort to make the team better overall.
“We might get the same block, or we might get different stuff because we are different rushers,” Judon said. “So how we approach the game and how we look at the game — we just see stuff different, and I’ve played a little bit more football than those guys on different teams and in different systems, so I can say, ‘All right, if you get this (look), then do this.’
Bill Belichick has emphasized his plans to create a faster and more athletic defense and drastically improve some of the weaker points within it. With the pass rush and generating pressure on opposing quarterbacks rising to the top of the list, especially after their devastating loss to the Bills in last year’s playoffs, Judon’s experience will be key in helping future defensive stars.
When discussing the impact that Judon’s words of wisdom have impacted him this year, Josh Uche called the veteran a, “great mentor” and explained his appreciation for what he’s learned from him so far.
“There’s not a better teacher than someone that’s gone through it as well,” Uche said. “They have different insights, different tricks maybe up their sleeve that they can pass down to you. Judon’s not a selfish person. He’s someone that’s definitely open and willing to share and pass the game on to the younger guys.”
Judon’s new role has appeared to paid off, as both Uche and Jennings had great showings in Thursday’s preseason game against the Giants. If their performance is any indication of what’s to come, the Patriots defense could evolve into one of the much more frightening and commanding defenses in the NFL.