The New England Patriots’ linebacker rotation is poised to look completely different next season. In many ways, the release of Kyle Van Noy set the stage for Bill Belichick’s new vision for the second level of his defense, which was absolutely outclassed in the loss to Buffalo in the first round of the playoffs.
The Patriots are clearly trying to get younger at the position.
They’ve yet to re-sign Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins, both of whom are on the wrong side of 30, re-signed the 25-year-old Ja’Whaun Bentley and acquired the 24-year-old Mack Wilson in the trade that sent Chase Winovich to Cleveland.
With that said, Van Noy, who has since joined JC Jackson on the Chargers, leaves massive shoes to fill both as a defensive stopper and leader.
While New England has several veterans capable of assuming Van Noy’s leadership role, the two-time champ reminded fans that he was the perfect Patriot by praising now-former teammate Mac Jones on his way out of town.
Kyle Van Noy had high praise for Mac Jones after his Patriots release.
“I sent him a nice message the other day about how I appreciate him and who he is as a person,” Van Noy told Pat McAfee. “I love Mac. I actually believe in Mac. … I really believe in him, and I think he’s going to be great. I hope he has the supporting cast to support him, that’s for sure, because he needs it.”
That’s some high praise coming from a two-time Super Bowl champion and an underrated piece of the Patriots’ run of success from 2016-2019 before Tom Brady’s departure. If you remember back in December, Van Noy explained on former NFL star Chris Long’s podcast how Jones won him over during training camp.
When I tell you (Jones) loves football and he’s a Patriot, that is him. I love him, too. He’s good. He’s really good. I’ve been impressed. For being 23, to handle the things that he’s handled, to be respectful, to get the teammates — like, he’s cool with all the teammates, vets, younger guys — it’s impressive, bro. That’s tough to do.
In a loaded AFC that got even scarier this offseason, Jones is going to need a strong supporting cast, as Van Noy noted. As long as Belichick continues to beef up the receiving corps and gives Jones a stable offensive line and running game, the Pats can become a perennial playoff team with Jones running the offense.
Van Noy won’t get the chance to go up against Jones next season, as the Chargers and Patriots won’t lock horns in the regular season for the first time since 2018, but you better believe he’ll be keeping tabs on Jones’ performance after the kid finished second in Offensive Rookie of the Year voting last campaign.
Like KVN, we can’t wait to see what Jones has in store for Year 2.