When Lawrence Guy signed a four-year, $20 million free agency contract with the New England Patriots in 2017, he joined his fifth NFL team since entering the league as a seventh-round draft selection six years earlier. The Patriots saw something in the former journeyman, however, and helped him reach his full potential: three years later, Guy is a cornerstone of the team’s defense and can call himself a Super Bowl champion.
But despite the success he has had over the last three seasons, and even though he was named to the Patriots’ Team of the 2010s in late April, Guy has already turned the page towards the season that lies ahead — his 10th in the NFL. He may be one of the most experienced players inside New England’s locker room, but as he pointed out during a video conference call last week, his sights are still set on getting better.
“I feel like every year is a new challenge,” Guy said. “If you’re not getting better, you’re pretty much out of the loop. That’s just how it is. So, consistently trying to get better and consistently pushing yourself, I feel like that’s what I’m doing is getting better, learning the game more and more. You can never stop learning this game. You’re always going to learn something new every single year, it’s just what aspect of the game are you going to learn differently this year than last year.”
“If you’re choosing to fix a mistake that you see on film the previous year, or from five years ago that continues that come up, that’s what I feel like I have been able to do is to take the coaching given to me and not overthink it, like, ‘Wow, I know what I’m doing.’ No, I’m always trying to get better some way, somehow. I want to take the coaching, and I’m able to do that and improve,” the 30-year-old added when speaking about his personal approach to the game entering Year 10.
Just like he was over the last three seasons, Guy will once again be counted on by the team to deliver quality play from the defensive tackle position — one he shares with Adam Butler, Byron Cowart and free agency addition Beau Allen — and to set the tone. This becomes especially important considering that the Patriots’ defense lost some serious talent during this offseason: linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins signed free agency deals elsewhere, as did fellow interior D-lineman Danny Shelton.
Despite the departures, however, Guy does not see the team and its preparation and focus change in any way. The system, as he pointed out, remains intact even with veteran players in all three phases wearing different uniforms in 2020: “Knowing the Patriots, they want you to be good. They want you to always be the better you. So, if that’s being better on special teams, being better at your position, being better at a position you don’t play, or it might be something totally different.”
“But, being a multi-unit player, that’s what they strive to do and that’s a motto — the more you can do, the better — and that’s what everyone’s able to do on this team,” he continued. “If you look through the whole roster, there’s not one person that only plays one position or one aspect. Everybody on the roster can play multiple positions, they can also play special teams in multiple positions, and that’s what we strive to be, to be a better player, not just a single player but to be an all-around player.”
Guy appears to be well on his way to develop into such a player for the Patriots. He did not just see considerable action in 2019 as a top-three defensive tackle that attacked from multiple techniques and stood out against both the pass and the run, the veteran also was a regular on three of New England’s special teams units. In this sense, he is embodying the “the more you can do”-mantra that he mentioned. And listening to him speak, one has to wonder if he will do even more this year.