Patriots Notes: Kyle Van Noy’s ‘Cerebral’ Approach To Defense Paying Off


Dec 6, 2016

The jury still is out on whether the Jamie Collins trade will benefit the New England Patriots in the long run. But it’s safe to declare the Kyle Van Noy deal a success.

One week before shipping Collins to the Cleveland Browns on Halloween, the Patriots sent a sixth-round draft pick to the Detroit Lions in exchange for Van Noy and a seventh-rounder. After sitting out two games as a healthy scratch, the BYU product made his Patriots debut Nov. 20 against the San Francisco 49ers and hasn’t looked back.

In three games for his new team, Van Noy has tallied 10 tackles, one sack and his first career interception. He’s started one contest (Week 12 at the New York Jets) and played 79 percent of defensive snaps in another (this past Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams).

“Kyle has done a great job of working really hard to acclimate to what we’re doing, and he has had to learn really fast as far as the system, the communication, the language,” Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia said Tuesday in a conference call with reporters.

Patricia trusted Van Noy enough to allow him to lead New England’s defensive huddle at times during Sunday’s win over the Rams. He credited the linebacker’s rise up the depth chart to a tireless work ethic and a desire to learn.

“He’s extremely prideful in his work and his approach to the game,” Patricia added. “He’s very cerebral. He’ll ask a lot of questions, and he really wants to understand what we’re doing and why, which is great. We’re trying to give him those answers and insight into where some of this either came from or developed or situations like that. So that’s really good.

“Then on top of that, he’s trying to obviously learn our techniques and the way that we want to play from a fundamental standpoint, too, which varies from system to system, scheme to scheme, coach to coach. So just trying to get all that technique work down, also. You know, just continually trying to work in that forward kind of progress and hopefully just try to keep improving.”

Van Noy and the rest of the Patriots had the day off Tuesday as they prepare to host the Baltimore Ravens next Monday night at Gillette Stadium.

Some additional notes from Tuesday’s conference calls:

— Patricia is a massive fan of Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr., who at age 37 still is playing at a high level.

“What a tremendous competitor,” Patricia said. “This guy is tough. He plays extremely quick. You wouldn’t really think that he has been in the league as long as he has, but he out-competes his opponents every play. He’s just got a drive about him that is definitely, I would say, a little bit of an old-school mentality that just he’s not going to be out-worked, he’s not going to be out-hustled, he’s not going to be out-competed by anybody else on the field.

“He’s a tough guy. He plays with great strength and they do a good job of utilizing him. They’re going to move him around, they’re going to put him in different positions and get him the ball where he can either make some people miss or try to run over some people, just kind of use his natural ability to create some space and get yardage.

“But this is a guy that (also) will compete in the run game. He’s going to go in there, and he’s going to block, he’s going to get after the defensive backs, and he’s going to try to really impose his will and be a physical presence in the run game also — which you don’t see that out of all the receivers week in and week out. This is a guy that just comes to play every week.”

Smith initially announced he’d retire after last season, but after suffering a season-ending torn Achilles in Week 8, he returned for one more go-round. In 10 games this season, he’s caught 54 passes for 589 yards with three touchdowns.

— The Patriots will be without Danny Amendola for the next month or so. The wide receiver reportedly is expected to miss the rest of the regular season after suffering a high ankle sprain against Los Angeles.

Amendola ranks seventh on the Patriots with 243 receiving yards this season, but he’s tied for the team lead with four touchdown receptions, and 14 of his 23 catches have resulted in first downs.

“Danny has always made the most of his opportunities on whatever down or wherever the ball was on the field,” Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said Tuesday. “He’s an incredibly dependable guy, knows what to do, creates separation or finds the soft spots in zones and has incredibly dependable hands, comes up big with a lot of big catches in critical situations and has helped us win a lot of games.

“He’s a guy that does whatever you ask him to do and has really been a big part of what we’ve done on third down — and, really, on every down — since he’s been here.”

Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images

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