Through 15 games, the New England Patriots’ defense has patched together 38 sacks.
It’s a long way from the 49 of 2015, a record-setting tally in the Bill Belichick era. But 38 is enough to tie for 12th in the league with the Seattle Seahawks this season, just ahead of the Atlanta Falcons, Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles. And it’s been enough to exceed the team’s 34 sacks from 2016 with a game left to add more.
Fifteen different players have factored into that production.
It’s taken all walks with Chris Long, Jabaal Sheard and Rob Ninkovich, who combined for 13 of the sacks last season, gone. Kony Ealy’s tenure in Foxborough ended before he could accrue a sack, too. And top draft choice, Youngstown State pass-rusher Derek Rivers, landed on injured reserve before the roster went to 53 players.
But here’s the list of those who’ve made up the difference.
2017 SACK DISTRIBUTION
Trey Flowers – 6.5: The 2015 fourth-round pick out of Arkansas registered a team-high seven sacks in the second half of last season, then posted 2.5 sacks on NFL MVP Matt Ryan in Super Bowl LI. Flowers again leads the way with 5.8 percent of the unit’s accumulation this season.
Kyle Van Noy – 5.5: Van Noy hit home for one sack during his time with the Detroit Lions, and posted the second of his career with the Patriots after arriving via trade in the fall of 2016. Now, the former second-rounder from Brigham Young, who was brought aboard in a swap of late-rounders, sits second on the defense with 5.5.
Deatrich Wise – 5: Another fourth-round Razorback has made a mark. Wise’s five sacks this year rank fifth among NFL rookies, matching Derek Barnett and checking in behind only T.J. Watt, Takkarist McKinley, Miles Garrett and Carl Lawson. Wise was drafted after all of whom. He’s also just the second post-2000 Patriots draft pick to notch a sack in both Week 1 and Week 2 of his rookie season.
Malcom Brown – 2.5: Brown, the No. 32 overall pick in 2015, has collected 1.5 sacks over the past month and stands a full sack away from setting a new personal best. The 23-year-old defensive tackle has missed three contests.
Eric Lee – 2.5: The same week the Patriots signed Lee of the Buffalo Bills’ practice squad, the former South Florida Bull and Houston Texan walked away with the first sack of his NFL career. It was Lee’s first regular-season game. The 2016 undrafted free agent is up to 2.5 sacks in five games now.
Marquis Flowers – 2.5: Flowers played 618 snaps on special teams and only 72 snaps on defense for the Cincinnati Bengals, whom the Patriots shipped an unconditional 2018 seventh-round choice to in August. And until last Sunday, Flowers had yet to record a sack in his 46 career games. He gathered 2.5 sacks in his 47th.
Adam Butler – 2: The O-line-to-D-line convert led Vanderbilt in sacks in 2016, and has since gathered two over the course of his first year in New England. Butler was one of four undrafted rookies to crack the Patriots’ initial 53-man roster.
Elandon Roberts – 2: Roberts went without a sack during his first season in the Patriots’ linebacker room, but has posted two this campaign. The Morgan State transfer, who went on to lead the FBS in solo tackles as a late-blooming starter at Houston, was drafted No. 214 overall in 2016.
Dont’a Hightower – 2: The Patriots’ defense has been without its green-dotted captain since the end of October. But Hightower logged two sacks over five appearances prior to going on injured reserve, and has 19 in his career since entering as a first-round pick via Alabama in 2012. Off the edge or sugaring the A-gaps, a presence he has been.
David Harris – 1.5: The longtime New York Jet racked up 35 sacks over the course of his 154 games in East Rutherford, and in a limited role for New England this season, he’s added 1.5 more. Harris, 33, has been on the field for 18 percent of the defensive snaps.
Lawrence Guy – 1: Guy, whom the Patriots signed to a four-year, $20 million deal in March, notched his first sack with the team against the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger in Week 15. The well-traveled defensive lineman out of Arizona State collected 6.5 sacks through stops with his first four NFL clubs.
Jonathan Jones – 1: Jones carved out a role in the kicking game as an undrafted rookie from Auburn last season, yet has since expanded his workload in the secondary. The first sack of the 5-foot-9 cornerback’s Patriots career came against Miami Dolphins backup Matt Moore on Nov. 26.
Devin McCourty – 1: Sacking the QB is a once-in-a-blue-moon thing for McCourty, who has done so three times over eight seasons with the Patriots. The centerfield safety got to the Dolphins’ Jay Cutler earlier this December, in what was his first sack since Oct. 29, 2015 against Miami’s Ryan Tannehill.
Malcolm Butler – 1: The 2014 undrafted tryout and 2015 Pro Bowler has long been regarded as a physical open-field tackler, though seldom has Butler been able to showcase it on quarterbacks. He has once this year, versus the Bills’ Tyrod Taylor last Sunday. Butler now has two sacks to his name.
Cassius Marsh – 1: Rounding out the list is Marsh, who was one-and-done in the sack column for the Patriots after coming over from the Seattle Seahawks for fifth- and seventh-round selections in September. The former UCLA edge-rusher started one of nine games for New England before being waived a claimed by the San Francisco 49ers in November.
And that’s that. Fifteen names for 15 games.
Seven players who’ve recorded a sack for the Patriots this season weren’t on the roster last season, and only nine of the 15 had a sack on their NFL resumes. But that’s what it’s taken for New England to compile 38 sacks.
A little bit of everyone.