The New England Patriots wouldn’t have brought Matt Judon in on a multi-year, big-money deal if they had anything but high hopes for him.
So far, he’s living up to expectations.
“You bring a guy like that to be an impact player,” Pats defensive line coach DeMarcus Covington said Wednesday over Zoom. “He’s done a good job of learning the defense, being a leader on the defense and really just being consistent on a day-to-day basis with his play, and helping other players be consistent and done a really good job.”
Covington isn’t the first one to rave about Judon so far. Rookie linebacker Ronnie Perkins has been watching closely what Judon is doing, as well.
That means he probably was paying attention Tuesday when Judon put his work ethic on full display.
As a running back broke free from the defense, the 28-year-old chased him down about 40 yards. It was an impressive effort for a roster lock veteran, especially since he was attempting to swat at the ball and pry it free.
It was a masterclass.
“I think that speaks a lot of him,” Covington said. “His work ethic, and I think the rookies learn from that, they see that on tape, they see a veteran a player that’s had success in his league, and they see him hustling on a day to day basis and running 20 yards, 30 yards, 40 yards downfield, and then they can really look at themselves and say, ‘This is what I need to do, this is how I need to practice.’ Or if it’s a period where somebody else is working, he’s on his side working on his craft. That’s leadership right there and kind of leading by example.
“So that’s what I’m talking about that he brings to the table, running down in the field. You don’t have to say words, he’s showing you how to practice, and that’s what we’re talking about by earning your reps, earning the right to play and earn in the respect of your teammates and coaches. That right there is an example of earning the respect of the coaches and not only the players by showing your effort because that situation is going to come up in a game where we’re going to have to run down and tackle the guy and live to play another down.
“So, that’s real football, and, everybody can really learn from that, not only the rookies, but also the other veteran players can learn from that, and now that brings awareness where I need to run to the football too.”
The Patriots defense is in an interesting spot. After one underwhelming showing after another last season, Bill Belichick broke out his checkbook and started overhauling that side of the ball. There is plenty of experience on defense now with guys like Judon, but there also are plenty of first- and second-year players. Having that kind of effort for them to learn from undoubtedly will help the Patriots up and down the defense.