Through seven games, Patriots linebacker Matthew Judon leads the league with 8.5 sacks. Here’s why he may make a run at the NFL’s single season sack record.
In Week Seven’s Monday Night Football matchup against the Chicago Bears, the New England Patriots stunk. There’s no other way around it. We were dominated on both sides of the ball. Christian Barmore’s absence and Kyle Dugger’s early exit put the defense in a tough position to replicate their performance through six games.
On the offensive side of the ball, the quarterback carousel of Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe was emblematic of an offense out of sync. The Patriots shifted to an offensive line that saw Marcus Cannon start over Isaiah Wynn at right tackle, and Trent Brown was called for four penalties. The Patriots struggled to find a rhythm on the ground, despite the return of Damien Harris.
One of the very few positives came in the form of Patriots linebacker Matthew Judon. On Monday night, he amassed four tackles (two tackles for loss), three quarterback hits, a pass deflection that resulted in Myles Bryant’s interception, and two and a half sacks. Those sacks both came in the first half and put him in the driver’s seat for the league lead.
Judon currently sits with 8.5 sacks through seven games, pacing to hit the 20 number. The NFL’s single season sack record is shared by Michael Strahan and T.J. Watt, both with 22.5. Judon is clearly on a strong pace.
On deck, the Patriots’ final 10 games include only two against opponents ranking in the Top 10 in team pass block win rate. The Vikings and Cardinals rank seventh and ninth, respectively, but the Patriots also play two games against a 21st ranked New York Jets offensive line that just lost a solid Alijah Vera-Tucker for the year and is likely to regress as a result. Other opponents include the Indianapolis Colts (30th), Bengals (29th), and Dolphins (25th).
In the first seven games, opponents included four teams ranked in the Top 10 for team pass block win rate (including the top three teams in the NFL). In those four games, Judon has 4.5 sacks. He has had success against offenses who are elite in this metric, and the schedule only gets easier from here, in that regard.
Matthew Judon will have an opportunity to overdrive his sack number as the season goes on. The return of stud interior defensive lineman Christian Barmore and pass rush specialist Josh Uche will only help things. In a season where names like Micah Parsons and Von Miller have dominated the pass rushing conversation, it is Judon who leads the pack in the sack department.
The “Elephant” linebacker, who has taken on more of a leadership role this year, is an absolute joy to watch. While perhaps slightly premature, he could do something really special this year.
And I’m here for it.