The New England Patriots defense ended its 2017 season on the lowest of notes. The unit gave up 41 points during the team’s Super Bowl loss against the Philadelphia Eagles and delivered one of the worst overall performances of the Bill Belichick era. One big reason for the defense’s struggles on the biggest stage was the uneven play if the pass rush – an issue that plagued New England all year long.
While the unit finished the regular season tied for seventh-best in sacks, it failed to consistently put the heat on opposing passers especially early during the year and, of course, in the final game. Despite this, though, not all was bad in the pass rushing department. In particular, the play of Trey Flowers and Deatrich Wise Jr. stood out. A recent tweet by the Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe further illustrates this:
Trey Flowers had 59.5 disruptions (7.5 sacks, 28 QB hits, 24 pressures) in 17 games.
Deatrich Wise was second on the Pats with 34 disruptions (7-14-13), which would have led the 2016 Patriots.
The Arkansas duo has a bright future in New England.
Despite their seasons ending in rather inglorious fashion, both Flowers and Wise Jr. had productive campaigns. Flowers, the lone defensive edge left from 2016’s Super Bowl-winning defensive end rotation, proved that last year was no fluke. The 24-year old did not only establish himself as the Patriots' number one pass rusher and edge defender, he also stepped into a leadership role within the team's defense.
Wise Jr., on the other hand, showed that he was ready for the challenge that is playing in the NFL. Overall, the fourth round pick appeared in all 19 of the Patriots' games this season and played around half of the team's defensive snaps. While he was less consistent than his fellow former Arkansas Razorback Flowers, the 23-year old showed plenty of promise throughout his first NFL season both against the pass and the run.
If the duo is able to further continue its growth and become more consistent as a result, New England's pass rush should be improved next season – especially with the addition of previously injured third round draft choice Derek Rivers to the mix as well. The Patriots' defensive edge rotation should be in good hands moving forward.