Patriots blitz: Matt Judon out there dominating like Andre Tippett

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - NOVEMBER 06: Matthew Judon #9 of the New England Patriots reacts during a game against the Indianapolis Colts at Gillette Stadium on November 06, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - NOVEMBER 06: Matthew Judon #9 of the New England Patriots reacts during a game against the Indianapolis Colts at Gillette Stadium on November 06, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images) /

New England Patriots went all-in in free agency in the 2021 offseason spending more than $150M in guaranteed money on a host of signings. Some worked out well, some not so much. But one signing who has even exceeded the high expectations is Matt Judon.

Judon with his great personality and aggressive style was a favorite in this space from the get-go. In 2021, he didn’t disappoint. He notched 12.5 sacks and had a great beginning to the season.

Then due to injury and contracting covid, his play slowed, as can be totally understood, late in the season. The Patriots’ defense as a whole collapsed late in the season, surrendered their top spot in the entire AFC East and had to settle for a wild card berth.

The result was a blow-out one and done at the hands of the Buffalo Bills. There was really no surprise there at that point. The air had come out of the Patriots’ sails late in 2021 and the wind never picked up for them again.

But things have changed thus far for both Matt Judon and the Patriots’ defense in 2022. And that change could propel the Patriots star edge player to be the Pats next All-Pro.

The New England Patriots defense is superb with a healthy Matt Judon

New England Patriots
New England Patriots pass rusher Matt Judon. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images) /

Judon’s return to health has set him back onto the path he had initially in 2021 before the health issues arose. Too little was made of the impact of covid on the player and maybe on any player (Cam Newton as well for certain in 2020) who contracted the virus.

Only the players themselves really knew the impact. Yet, neither Judon nor Newton previously made any excuse whatsoever. They just battled on, did what they could do physically, and let the chips fall where they may. That shows the real character of both men.

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This season, Judon is expressing his health in the best way possible, with his play on the field. He’s on pace to be one of the Patriots most productive sack men in their history. (Say hello to Andre Tippett, the Pats all-time best, Matt!).

From the Pro Football Hall of Fame, we see this about Tipp,

"The New England Patriots selected Andre Tippett in the second round of the 1982 NFL Draft.  Used primarily on special teams during his strike-shortened rookie season, Tippett earned a starter’s berth beginning in 1983.  That year the 6’3”, 240-pound linebacker set the stage for things to come by recording a team-leading 8.5 sacks.  The following season he established a new team record for sacks with 18.5 and earned his first of five consecutive invitations to the Pro Bowl (1985-1989)."

To date, Judon has 12.5 sacks in nine games. Yes, that is more than a sack a game! Should he continue this pace, he’d be on schedule to notch 23.5 or so sacks for the season. That would indeed be a Patriots record though Tipp got his18.5 in a 14-game season.

Now, the entire NFL has started to take note of Judon’s spectacular play and that of the very underrated Patriots defense (including here earlier) in general. The Athletic according to has voted Judon to their mid-season All-Pro roster. They cite the Athletic this way,

"Matthew Judon, New England Patriots (16 votes)The move from Baltimore to New England prompted a spike in production, as Judon racked up 12 1/2 sacks in 17 games in 2021. The seventh-year pro has elevated his game even further in 2022 and has a league-leading 11 1/2 sacks through nine games. After earning Pro Bowl nods in each of the last three seasons, he appears likely to extend that streak and possibly take home his first All-Pro selection."

That’s high praise and a well-deserved acknowledgment, indeed. Looking even brighter is the fact that Christian Barmore, a pocket crusher extraordinaire in the middle of the Patriots defensive line and its best player, will hopefully return after the bye week to play against the Jets. He’s a tremendous asset.

In addition, Josh Uche finally had a breakout game in his third season. The former second-round pick had floundered but had a breakout performance with three sacks of his own against the Colts last week to match Judon’s three in a nine-sack Patriots sack extravaganza.

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Add that dominating pocket-collapsing presence like Barmore and a sustained right-edge threat in Uche, and the Patriots’ defense will provide problems for even the best NFL offenses.

Together with a very solid defensive backfield, it’s clear why the New England Patriots defense has been its shining light this season. And it all starts with Matt Judon.

Hopefully, after game 17, he’s a first-team All-Pro player leading his team into the playoffs for a second straight season. We’ll see how that works out and if the offense can hold up its end of the bargain. There’s no doubt that if healthy, Matt Judon will.