Patriots

Patriots seem to have found another impactful pass-rusher in Deatrich Wise

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Patriots seem to have found another impactful pass-rusher in Deatrich Wise

When Deatrich Wise notched his first sack as a pro in Week 1 against the Chiefs, it wasn't quite what he had envisioned all his life. Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith tripped over himself trying to avoid pressure and all Wise had to do was be the first to touch him to get credit. 

But in Sunday's win against the Chiefs, Wise got his money's worth on No. 2, and he nearly had a couple of others. His sack of Drew Brees in the third quarter knocked the Saints out of field goal range and forced a Thomas Morstead punt.

To that point in the game, Wise had three quarterback hits -- and on two of those, Brees hit receivers for long gains -- so he was fired up to finally get home.

"When I finally got to him, I was excited," Wise said. "Was rushing a few times, was missing, kept hitting him, but there's nothing like getting an actual sack."

Wise finished the game with a whopping five quarterback hits, a sack and two tackles for losses, and it looks as though he's going to be able to provide the Patriots with a solid option as a pass-rusher along with fellow Arkansas product Trey Flowers.

After a summer-long debate as to where the Patriots would get their pass rush, the fourth-round pick -- the only 2017 draft pick to make the 53-man roster out of training camp -- has emerged.

Wise had an encouraging start to camp and immediately performed as one of the team's top defensive linemen. A concussion during the preseason opener against the Jaguars limited his practice time, but since he's been cleared, he immediately re-established himself as one of defensive coordinator Matt Patricia's third-down rushers. 

In 34 pass-rush snaps, Wise has recorded seven quarterback pressures (sacks, hits and hurries), according to Pro Football Focus. Though it's a small sample size, those numbers have made him one of the most productive pass-rushers in the league on a per-snap basis through two weeks.

His seven pressures is tied for eighth in the league, while Flowers (11) is fourth. 

"It's been great, these last few games," Wise said after beating the Saints. "I just want to keep showing my teammates and my coaches what I can do for this team."

Wise's experience in the SEC and physical skill set have helped him adapt to the pro game relatively quickly. He also seems to have a good grasp on how to use is length to his advantage -- perhaps as a result of working closely alongside Flowers, whose length is also one of his advantages in the trenches.

Coming into the draft, Wise measured in at 6-foot-5, 274 pounds with 35.5-inch arms and 10.5-inch hands, giving him dimensions that were strikingly similar to Chandler Jones when Jones was drafted out of Syracuse in 2012.

Bill Belichick likes what he's seen from Wise thus far, but he noted on Monday that Wise is still a work in progress, even when it comes to taking advantage of his length.

"I think that the length can be a good thing for a player if he knows how to use it and he plays with good leverage," Belichick said. "It can be a bad thing if long players play high and let other players play with better leverage and get underneath their pad level. It’s a potential opportunity, again, if it’s used properly with good pad level, leverage and technique, but it could also not be a good thing if it’s not used properly and just gives the blockers a bigger target and just isn’t effective.

"Deatrich’s worked hard on the techniques that Coach [Brendan] Daly’s been working with him on, both in the running game and the passing game. There were certainly some positive things that showed up yesterday and even last week. I still think there’s a long way to go, a lot of things that he can improve on. But, if he continues to work hard at it like he has been, then hopefully each week we’ll be able to see some improvement and better techniques and better fundamentals in all of the different areas of the game -- not just pass rush, but the running game and playing combination blocks and all the different sorts of things that come into really the heart of the issue, which is playing with good pad level, pad level leverage and technique."

After his second straight impactful performance, though encouraged, Wise expressed similar sentiments.

"There's still room to grow," he said. "I'm still learning every day. Malcom [Brown], Trey, [Lawrence] Guy [are] always telling me things I can work on daily. I'm really behind right now, I've got to catch up . . . I'm a rookie so I have a lot to learn about the game, about the playbook and about this whole thing."

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Patriots react to Ramsey's guarantee: He should be confident

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Patriots react to Ramsey's guarantee: He should be confident

FOXBORO -- Patriots players didn't seem all that bothered by Jalen Ramsey's proclamation that the Jaguars would win the AFC title game and head to Minnesota for the Super Bowl. 

"I ain't got too much to say, but y'all make sure you bring that same energy out here next week and the week after," Ramsey said in Jacksonville following his team's win in Pittsburgh. "We're going to the Super Bowl and we're going to win that (expletive). We're going to win that (expletive)."

Asked about those comments on Monday, Patriots captain Matthew Slater showed no hint of disapproval. 

"Man, that guy’s really good," Slater said. "And he should be confident, because he’s very, very good. The good Lord made that guy, and he said, ‘Let there be corner.’ And there he is. I’d be confident if I were him, as well."

Ramsey was named a First-Team All-Pro for his work on the outside opposite Second-Team All-Pro corner AJ Bouye. They make up arguably the best cornerback duo in football, and Ramsey has already established himself as one of the best at his position despite being just 23 years old and in his second pro season.

"Hey, man, Jalen Ramsey’s a good player," Patriots captain Duron Harmon said. "He talks a lot of trash. That’s part of his game, and you can’t take that away from him. He’s confident. He should be confident in his team. He has a really good football team. The top two AFC teams are left, and he’s a part of one of them.

"His approach to the game is different than ours, but we can’t knock him for it. We know they’re going to come ready to play, and we’ve just got to match their type of physicality and also just their emotion and their readiness to get ready to play."

Ramsey's best work as a trash-talker came eariler this season after he shut down Bengals wideout AJ Green. What he said about the AFC Championship was certainly a step (or several) below that in terms of its intensity, and judging by their reaction Monday, it seems to be a mere blip on the Patriots' radar.

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With McDaniels, Patricia heading out, Pats now have double the distraction potential

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With McDaniels, Patricia heading out, Pats now have double the distraction potential

News about the Patriots coordinators over the past 24 hours is far from a shock.

And it’s not really news if you’ve been sticking with us over the past couple weeks.

 

(Yes, as a matter of fact, I did hurt my arm patting myself on the back…)

MORE - Pats don't need to apologize for anything

The Colts have been the preferred destination for Josh McDaniels since this started. Aside from geography, there was very little recommend the 3-13 Giants over the 9-7 Detroit Lions for Matt Patricia. Unless a chastened, meddling owner, an infant-laden locker room and a quarterback headed for the glue factory would be selling points for you, you’d go to Detroit 10 times out of 10 to stay out of that the Jints morass.

How will these acorns from the Belichick Tree fare?

It’s hard to even project. Depending on Andrew Luck’s shoulder, Indy’s either in semi-rebuild or headed for a full reboot. The Lions have the pieces in place but Patricia is in his first time around as a head coach. For a dozen years, he’s peeked over his shoulder to see if Bill Belichick approved of every on-the-record comment he’s made.

Fly free now, little bearded bird!

For both guys, it’s time. What else is left to prove in New England?

If you take a long, realistic look at the Patriots roster as they prepare for the AFC Championship – what’s the sense in sticking around until things get rocky?

The best core players are near or past 30 (Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Nate Solder, Marcus Cannon, Matt Slater, Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman and Tom Brady). Two that aren’t - Donta Hightower and Rob Gronkowski – have fairly long injury histories and even if Gronk’s turned the corner, his contract is up in 2019.

Bill Belichick might be done in 12 months. He might be done in five years.

More than what’s “wrong” or insufficient in New England, though, is the simple fact of professional advancement and fulfillment. Challenge yourself. Make a bunch more money. Who knows, if you’re McDaniels, maybe you follow the same trajectory as Belichick and win five Super Bowls.

The “brain drain” can be stanched at the coordinator level by simple elevations of current assistants. Brian Flores and Chad O’Shea are the likeliest candidates. But there are other places it can flow. 

Every coach that departs a program needs lieutenants to bring with him who can pass on his vision to the team he’ll lead.

Fortunately, the GMs in Detroit and Indy – Bob Quinn and Chris Ballard – already have their economic and personnel philosophies in place. But, generally, coaches like to bring with the players who are can interpret and serve as go-betweens. 

Over his first two seasons in New England, Belichick brought aboard Anthony Pleasant, Bryan Cox, Bobby Hamilton, Roman Phifer, Antonio Langham and Otis Smith. He also brought coaches like Eric Mangini and front-office execs like Scott Pioli. 

And the outflow was what got sticky when Mangini left to coach the Jets and was perceived by Belichick to be pilfering players and coaches before he was even out of Gillette Stadium. 

Here’s a list of the Patriots who’ll be up at the end of this season. Here are the ones who’ll be up at the end of the 2018 season. Highlighting the list of guys expiring after 2019 is Brady.

You can rest assured McDaniels and Patricia are both familiar with all those names.

Before anyone goes anywhere, the 2017 Patriots have a chance to add another line to everyone’s resume. In years past, the interview process didn’t seem to hinder either man because they were both coming back. Now, with both coordinators committed to leaving, we’ll see how well the balance is struck.

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