The story of the New England Patriots season so far has been the defense. The unit has been hands down the best in the NFL through 11 games. New England has counted on a variety of stars to lead the group such as cornerback Stephon Gilmore and linebackers Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins. Despite the big names on the defense and outstanding play by players such as Gilmore, there has been one extremely important player that has seemingly flown under the radar to this point. It is, of course, none other than rookie edge rusher Chase Winovich, the unsung hero of the New England Patriots defense.
Why Chase Winovich is the Unsung Hero of the New England Patriots Defense
Consistency Is Key
Consistency isn’t something that is commonly found in rookies. However, the Patriots seem to have found this in Winovich. Although Winovich hasn’t been out on the field for a majority of the defensive snaps, just 29 percent to be exact, he has proven himself to be reliable and consistent as a pass rusher. To this point in the season, he has tallied 4.5 sacks and eight total quarterback hits. In addition to this, Winovich has pressured opposing quarterbacks 17 times so far this season. The most telling stat regarding Winovich’s consistency has been his missed tackle percentage. He has racked up 13 tackles so far and has only missed one tackle, good for a 7.1 percent missed tackle percentage.
Winovich’s ability to minimize mistakes has been a major key to his success. As evidenced by his low missed tackle percentage, he just makes the plays he’s supposed to make. As we all know this is crucial to succeeding in a Bill Belichick system. At Michigan, Winovich was a force on the defensive line and was a major playmaker on defense. Despite not being in that type of role with the Patriots, he has been able to produce at a high level. He’s been mainly used as a situational pass rusher to this point in the season and to say he has succeeded in this role would be an understatement.
Chase Winovich had his season-defining highlight in Week 6 against the New York Giants. Funny enough, this wasn’t even a defensive play, but rather a special teams play. This goes to show Winovich’s true versatility and how it adds value to him as a player. During this game, Winovich blocked a Giants punt and then was able to pick it up and take it into the end zone for a touchdown. This play was a microcosm of what makes Winovich such an important piece of the Patriots defense. His high motor has given the defense a whole new energy and the ability to limit mistakes has added incredible depth to the defense.
How Chase Winovich Can Continue to Succeed
To this point, Chase Winovich has been the unsung hero of this Patriots defense. On a unit that has so much star power, the rookie edge defender has been able to carve out a nice role for himself, and he has done extremely well in it. Provided Winovich continues to play solid, mistake-free football, his snap count should only increase. As he plays more fans can expect him to begin gaining some more recognition for his solid play. The only thing holding him back from being one of the best players on the defense is his small sample size. Even with this small sample size, he has been able to make an impact, not only on defense but also on special teams. Patriots fans should be excited about their rookie pass rusher as he’s off to an excellent start and his future is incredibly bright.
FOXBOROUGH, MA – NOVEMBER 24: New England Patriots defensive lineman Chase Winovich (50) rushes down field on a kick off during a game between the New England Patriots and the Dallas Cowboys on November 24, 2019, at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)