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Chase Winovich is one of Pro Football Focus’s best preseason players

Sure, it’s the preseason, but Winovich is already tearing it up at a position where the Patriots needed a shot in the arm.

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New England Patriots v Detroit Lions Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Ok so let’s just get this out of the way from the get-go: obviously nobody is saying that after two (2) preseason games, Chase Winovich is already a first ballot stone cold lock for the Patriots Hall of Fame.

Just that *if* that were the case, he probably wears almost exactly the same size as Tedy Bruschi, so that should be a pretty easy red jacket to make.

And one quick thing for the crowd that has to WELL ACTUALLY with everything cool that happens in preseason with “it’s preseason and they’re playing against second and third-string players and they’re not even running all the plays they’ll run in the regular season and it’s great that football is back but it’s not REAL FOOTBALL”....

Congratulations, you understand how context works. Now crack open a fresh one and enjoy some freaking sacks.

And run stuffs!

And some “I’m going to need you to get back over here ASAP please”!

And, um, whatever this is?

So far Wino’s played 66 snaps at edge defender, even though he ran some snaps during joint practices with Tennessee lined up over the center, and since all Pats fans know that sacks aren’t a great way to judge D-line production (although Chase does have 3 already, did we mention that?), here’s how PFF has him graded so far:

92.2, which is currently good for best overall among all rookie edge defenders. Not a typo.

Chase also scored a slightly higher grade than that in last week’s rumble in Music City, scoring a 93.6 overall and an edge defender spot on PFF’s highly coveted Preseason Team of the Week.

The other edge player Winovich is manning the edge with in that roster? Denver’s Bradley Chubb, who you probably remember was the 5th overall pick in the 2018 draft and already hyped as a Pro Bowl player before he even got drafted. No pressure, kid. You’re only playing with Von Miller on the other side.

And even though we still don’t really know what the 2019 Pats defense is going to look like under new defensive, sorry, defensive play-caller Jerod Mayo, the Patriots have been on a serious dry spell when it comes to sacks for the last few seasons even though they’ve tried various ways of reloading on the D-line.

Trigger warning (and with the shot/chaser that, you know, 2 of these seasons ended in Lombardi trophies):

2018: 30 sacks (30th in the NFL)

2017: 42 sacks (tied for 7th in the NFL. That’s more like it!)

2016: 34 sacks (tied for 16th in the NFL)

Yes, we’re deliberately excluding the 2015 season when New England was second in the entire league with 49 sacks behind only a Denver Broncos defense that’d, in hindsight, go down as one of the most not-to-be-messed-with in modern NFL history. Mostly because that Patriots front-seven was both completely different from this one in terms of the players, and also, that was a few defensive coordinators ago, so, yeah.

Meanwhile, back to Wino: in addition to rushing the passer, which everyone knew he could do anyway, PFF also notes that he checks the very important Patriots box of Setting the Edge:

On the other hand, Winovich has been making splash plays right out of the gate. The Patriots rookie edge defender has earned a run-defense grade of 70.8 over the first two preseason games as he made five tackles — including three defensive stops — on 24 run plays. However, Winovich was even better on pass plays, where he has been basically unstoppable.

Go on, you have my attention.

He rushed the passer on 40 plays and recorded three sacks, one hit and six hurries while there were an additional five plays where he beat his blocker just to see the quarterback attempt the pass before he could have recorded a pressure. Excluding his one unblocked pressure, Winovich beat a blocker on 16 of his 40 pass-rushing snaps, leading to a whopping win rate of 40.0%. Who were the other defenders who had similar rates in previous preseasons since 2015? Mario Addison (43.3%, 2015) and Daeshon Hall (40.7%, 2019). That’s it.

Barely beating a blocker on 40% of his pass-rushing snaps. SMH.

It’s ok to be a just a little excited. This is supposed to be fun, right?