The New England Patriots, who will be off until training camp starts later this month, currently have 89 players on their active roster. However, only 53 of them will be able to survive the cutdowns on August 31 and ultimately make the team. Over the course of the summer, we will take a look at the players fighting for those spots to find out who has the best chances of helping the Patriots defend their Super Bowl title.
Today, the series continues with one New England’s most important defenders.
Name: Kyle Van Noy
Jersey number: 53
Opening day age: 28
Size: 6’3, 250 lbs.
2018 review: After emerging as one of the Patriots’ starting linebackers in 2017, Kyle Van Noy took his play to another level the following year. The Brigham Young product, who joined New England via trade from the Detroit Lions midway through the 2016 regular season, developed into a reliable and versatile presence at the heart of the team’s defense and one of the unit’s most valuable and indispensable members.
Van Noy appeared in all nineteen of the world champions’ games in 2018, and rarely left the field: he played 946 of a possible 1,043 defensive snaps during the regular season (90.7%), and all but one of New England’s 188 snaps in the playoffs — no other linebacker on the team’s roster saw more action than the former second-round draft pick. And usually when his number was called, Van Noy was able to deliver no matter where he lined up.
The veteran defender, after all, was used all over the field: he played on the line scrimmage as an edge/outside linebacker hybrid; he played off the line in a more classic linebacker role; he played over the weak side and the strong side of the offensive formation; he played as a traditional Mike linebacker; he was used in coverage and against the run; he rushed the passer off the edge or blitzed up the middle. In short, Van Noy was a jack-of-all-trades.
As such, he was immensely productive no matter the task. He registered a team-high 59 tackles in the running game, but was also able to regularly pressure the quarterback (in fact, only Trey Flowers was more disruptive): on the year, Van Noy impacted opposing passers a combined 48.5 times — he sacked them on 6.5 occasions and also added 16 hits and 26 pressures to his name. His playmaking did not stop there, though.
Van Noy, who surrendered 22 receptions on 37 targets in coverage for 207 yards and a touchdown, also had an interception and forced a pair of fumbles; he furthermore had two recoveries. And that’s just his defensive output, as he also made an impact on his 150 special teams snaps (of 545; 27.5%): in week seven against the Chicago Bears, he recovered a blocked punt and returned it 29 yards for the first touchdown of his five-year career.
His best performance of the year, however, might have come on the game’s biggest stage. Against the Los Angeles Rams, Van Noy had an integral role in one of the best defensive efforts in Super Bowl history. Playing all 65 of New England’s snaps, he was (again) all over the field and finished with 3 tackles, a 14-yard sack and a pair each of quarterback hits and hurries. Van Noy, who also took over play-calling duties from Dont’a Hightower after he temporarily left the game because of a minor injury, was outstanding — as he was for most of the year.
2019 preview: Entering the final season of the two-year contract extension he signed in 2017, Van Noy is a lock to make the Patriots’ 53-man roster. In fact, he also appears to be a realistic candidate to see another new deal come his way before or during the season (one that might also bring his $6.29 million salary cap hit down a bit). And why not? He is still only 28 years old and has proven his value to the team repeatedly in 2017 and especially in . 2018.
When it comes to his 2019 campaign, Van Noy’s role should therefore be expected to look similar to the one he played last year: he will again line up all over the field as the running mate of the aforementioned Dont’a Hightower and see considerable action each week — expect him to regularly be on the field for 90+% of defensive snaps and to be an impact player no matter how he is used.