Chase Winovich apparently needs to alter his behavior if he wants to have a long career in New England.
Clearly talented, the second-year linebacker showed flashes of star pass-rusher potential this season, as he did through stretches of his freshman campaign. But Winovich also struggled to get on the field in early down, run-stopping scenarios, leading to multiple games with snap count totals jarringly low for a player of his caliber.
The Michigan product and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick both sang optimistic tunes throughout the 2020 season, but it was clear to anyone watching that something was up beyond mere pessimism over Winovich’s ability to play against the run. Rumors of issues caused by 2019 third-round pick’s personality were not hard to find.
That brings us to Tuesday, when Boston Sports Journal’s Greg Bedard published an interesting column offering sourced info on how the Patriots currently feel about some of their young players. His blurb about Winovich was particularly noteworthy.
Take a look:
Had a monster game against the Jets, which we also saw earlier in the season. In between? Just a sub-rusher role. Why? Because he can?t be counted on a down-to-down basis to Do His Job on the edge, and I?m not sure the team will ever trust him to do that ? he?s almost certain to have competition at the position next year. There?s also the issue of his mouth, which is a concern internally because he rarely thinks he?s wrong and is a bit of a locker room lawyer (sounds like someone around here who writes about football). I?ve floated moving him to (inside linebacker) but that has been shot down because if of the lack of faith he will consistently do the correct things within the scheme.
If true, Bedard’s report paints an image of a player who, for all his talent, has yet to acquiesce to certain demands of the “Patriot way.” That doesn’t necessarily mean there is anything wrong with Winovich; rather, it indicates he might not be a perfect fit with the Patriots.
Still, New England has few players currently on its defense with the kind of upside Winovich has. It’s imperative Winovich and the Patriots iron out their differences before the 2021 season.