The New England Patriots and their fans have been keeping a very close eye on the quarterback battle in the preseason, as the duel between Cam Newton and Mac Jones is still raging on. While much less attention is being paid to the pass rush, that doesn’t mean that the likes of Matt Judon and Josh Uche aren’t deserving of praise.
In fact, that unit, which also includes rookie defensive lineman Christian Barmore and Patriots regular Deatrich Wise, looks like one of the best positional groupings on this roster, and they really started to flex their muscles during their preseason finale against Daniel Jones and the New York Giants.
The Patriots were able to sack Jones twice and coax an interception out of him at the goal-line by forcing an errant throw. While the Giants’ offensive line isn’t exactly the Great Wall of Dallas with Pro Bowl talent scattered all over it, New England’s front seven very clearly won the day thanks to four total sacks in a 22-20 win.
New England is going to win games by controlling the clock and beating teams into a pulp on the defensive side of the ball. If a unit with so many new faces and question marks looked that dominant for large chunks of the game, that’s a fantastic omen for the regular season.
The Patriots’ pass rush looked ready to play.
Wise and Ja’Whuan Bentley combined to get the sack on Jones here, but it was Wise who was the star of this play, blowing past former No. 4 overall pick Andrew Thomas and getting to the quarterback.
With Chase Winovich’s appearance in the fourth quarter a potential sign that he isn’t high on the depth chart, Wise is doing everything he can to compete for minutes.
One of the more promising developments was Uche, who is looking much more refined as a pass rusher than he ever did at Michigan. Drafting hybrid linebackers can be a bit of a puzzler at times given how they can be incongruous fits, but Uche was making the most of his first-team reps, getting a sack and hounding Jones into an interception.
If anyone on this defense is going to have a breakout season, Uche seems like a good bet to take.
While Judon didn’t get to add a sack in his limited reps, he looked like the high-priced cornerstone New England expected him to be, laying a lick on Jones on one of his few rushes on the evening. Potential cut Bill Murray made a strong case to remain on the roster with 1.5 sacks
The quarterback question still needs to resolve itself, but New England has to feel confident in their ability to win games by dominating on defense. Teams will present steeper challenges than the Giants can provide, but every tier of the depth chart looked good, and that should be the main takeaway from their preseason crescendo.