Anyone who sacks Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson three times in a game deserves mention. Who would had thought New England Patriots defensive end Deatrich Wise Jr. would be the one to achieve that?
Sacking the elusive Jackson three times in a game can’t be real, right? Wise’s swordsman celebration seemed more likely stuck on replay instead of downing a former NFL MVP three times in the first half.
But that’s what Wise did in a Patriots loss to Baltimore.
With three bags to add to the sack from the season opener, Wise has four for the year. He’s tied with Matt Judon for the team lead in sacks and is just one away from tying his career high after just three games played.
Deatrich Wise Jr. is showing why he was selected as a New England Patriots captains
We’re getting a different Deatrich Wise Jr. this year. He was used mostly on passing downs years before. Now he’s on the field for all situations. He’s played in 81 percent of defensive snaps this year, up from 52 percent in 2021.
What’s also different is Wise is a leader. Before the season the Patriots players voted Wise Jr. a team captain. It’s his first time being selected as a Patriots captain. He joins regulars Devin McCourty, Matthew Slater, Ja’Whaun Bentley and David Andrews. Mac Jones is also a first time captain.
Wise appreciates the honor, as he told Patriots.com’s Evan Lazar:
"“It’s a great honor to be named captain. I’ve felt like I’ve been a leader with or without the captain ‘C’ on my chest. It’s always been one of those things that I’ve taken pride in being a voice if I need to or being able to pull guys to the side. I am honored to be named captain for this team.”"
Being a leader is nothing new to Wise, as he served as a captain for Arkansas in his senior year. But as a free agent this past off-season, he either wouldn’t be a captain now if he signed with another team or he would be a captain somewhere else.
The New England Patriots re-signing Wise was met with surprise from some fans. For a defensive end that didn’t get a lot of sacks, why would the Pats want him back?
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The short answer: he plays the game EXACTLY how Bill Belichick likes the game to be played. Wise plays the run first, then rushes the passer. He will keep the quarterback contained when he rushes the passer, so QBs can’t escape the pocket when under pressure. Stats are nice, but Wise plays for the TEAM to succeed.
Wise was a personal curiosity when he was drafted in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft. At 6-5 275 pounds with a pterodactyl’s wingspan, he was built like a prototypical 4-3 defensive end.
Maybe Wise would had been drafted sooner if he declared after his junior season. Eight sacks and 10.5 tackles for a loss in the competitive SEC would carry a lot of weight in the eyes of scouts. But Wise stayed one more year and put up 3.5 sacks and 5.5 tackles for a loss. Lack of consistency often is held against prospects.
The production doesn’t tell the whole story about Wise. Typically to play D-line in a 3-4, teams gather 300-pounders. Wise’s natural strength and arm length enables him to play bigger than his weight. Scheme versatility will always be a plus for Belichick.
So is positional versatility. Wise can rush the passer from the outside or inside, making a Patriots pass rush unit scary.
There was a lot of talk about finding a bookend opposite Judon. The New England Patriots didn’t view a pass rusher as a priority this past draft, so Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings were possible solutions. They’ve combined for zero sacks and five tackles through four games.
Instead it has been Wise that stepped up his game. He was on the field for 88 percent of the defensive snaps against Green Bay. He’s on pace to crush his career highs. But more importantly, captain Wise will have plenty of opportunities to make a difference for a promising New England Patriots defense.