When the New England Patriots struggle, many fans immediately default to complaining about what they presume to be a non-existent pass rush.
It’s understandable because the Patriots don’t exactly pressure the quarterback like many other teams. The Patriots care just as much about containment on first and second down as they do about disruption.
Unsurprisingly, the pass rush drew the ire of Patriots fans since Thursday night’s 42-27 Week 1 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, but there really isn’t much to complain about. The Patriots recorded three sacks, and they consistently brought pressure when it was dialed up on third down.
Standout defensive end Trey Flowers led the way with two sacks, but his college teammate, rookie Deatrich Wise, was typically right with him as Patriots defenders pressured Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith.
Wise, who was a training camp standout and received reps with the first team early in the summer before suffering a concussion in the first preseason game, recorded a sack, quarterback hit and hurry. All of the Arkansas product’s pressures came on third down and in the second quarter.
Wise helped force Flowers’ first sack by driving Smith up and out of the pocket while rushing from the left edge.
Wise’s sack was of the coverage variety as he combatted a double team while rushing from inside. Smith slipped and fell, and Wise, eventually beating his blockers, got to the quarterback before Flowers.
Wise beat a double team while rushing from inside with 57 seconds left in the first half. He used his power to push past Chiefs guard Bryan Witzmann and into Smith’s face. He should have forced an interception on the play, but the ball slipped through safety Patrick Chung’s hands and into Tyreek Hill’s.
There’s an alternate universe where that pressure forced either an incompletion or interception, and the Patriots were then leading the Chiefs by two or three scores at the half.
Wise actually had one more quarterback hit on the drive, but it didn’t count, because cornerback Malcolm Butler was flagged for pass interference.
Wise, who brings a modest confidence, wasn’t surprised by his performance, though he was happy to get a sack in his NFL debut.
“It wasn’t anything I didn’t expect going into the game,” Wise said. “I was going to make a statement, and I’m just going to keep building on that every day.”
Wise and rookie defensive tackle Adam Butler played almost exclusively on third down Thursday night, when the Patriots were intent on bringing pressure. Wise, Butler and Flowers were three of the few bright spots for the Patriots in their double-digit loss, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see them get into Saints quarterback Drew Brees’ face Sunday when the Patriots take on New Orleans.
Wise and Butler could begin playing on early downs, as well, if they continue to impress as pass rushers, too.
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images
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