Matt Judon made two Pro Bowls in five seasons with the Baltimore Ravens. But he was never this good.
The 29-year-old edge rusher is enjoying a career year for the New England Patriots: His 12.5 sacks through 13 games are already tied for third-most in franchise history in a single season, and only three players have better odds than Judon to win NFL Defensive Player of the Year, per PointsBet.
So, what's inspiring Judon's breakout campaign in New England? His teammate, Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy, brought up a few notable factors Wednesday as a guest on the "Green Light" podcast with ex-Patriot Chris Long.
For starters, Van Noy explained that Judon is on the field a lot more in New England than he was in Baltimore, which can be a significant advantage for a pass rusher.
"(The Ravens) rotate their edge rushers a lot," Van Noy told Long. "Especially with pass rushing, you need to get into a rhythm. It's like a pitcher.
"I'll give you an example: Last night going against (Bills offensive lineman) rookie Spencer Long, I started on the stab progression, and he knocked me down. So I was like, 'all right.' Later on in the game, I flashed it and faked him.
"It was the one where Josh Allen scrambled out with the penalty flag, but I should have sacked him. ... If I didn't get those reps earlier in the game, I wouldn't have been able to do that."
To Van Noy's point: Judon has been on the field for 84% of the Patriots' defensive snaps this season, compared to just 52.9% of the Ravens' snaps last season.
As Van Noy sees it, Judon's strengths are perfectly suited to getting consistent pass-rushing reps.
"I think it's a little bit of everything," Van Noy said. "I think it's a little bit of, he's bigger than you think he is. He has a great knack of when o-linemen, how they set, how he reacts off how different linemen set. He is able to use his strength moves against that.
"And he doesn't quit. He might lose a couple, but he's going to keep working."
Judon's high motor has been on display all season: He's averaging 4.5 quarterback pressures and 2.5 QB hurries per game in addition to his 12.5 sacks, per Pro Football Focus.
The Patriots typically don't put their pass rushers in feature roles; John Simon played just 69% of defensive snaps in 2020 to lead all New England edge rushers. But they clearly have a star in Judon, who's at his best when he's in a rhythm and exploiting weaknesses he discovers in offensive linemen throughout the game.
New England has maximized Judon's talents through 13 games, and his success is a big reason why the Patriots have the NFL's best scoring defense.