The New England Patriots defensive line had its fair share of struggles in 2020, prompting the club to make some major investments during the offseason. Not only did it trade up to acquire Alabama’s Christian Barmore in the second round of the draft, it also brought three outside veterans in through free agency.
Davon Godchaux, Henry Anderson and Montravius Adams were signed with one simple goal in mind: making a unit better that failed to properly control the line of scrimmage last season against both the pass and the run. That process, according to defensive line coach DeMarcus Covington, is already in full swing.
“It’s been good,” he said about his team’s offseason preparation earlier this month.
“One, just being on the practice field, you take that for granted. That’s one thing I’m never going to take for granted, is actually being out there on the practice field, getting to work with the guys. This is the time when we sharpen our tools, we build on the fundamentals and techniques, especially in the defensive line room. This is a great opportunity for us to get better and build on something for training camp.”
Godchaux was the first of the Patriots’ three offseason additions, agreeing to a two-year, $16 million contract with the team on the first day of the legal tampering period. A former fifth-round draft pick by the Miami Dolphins, he started 42 games for the organization over the last four years — establishing himself as a stout run stuffer from the nose tackle position.
Heading into New England, the expectation for him is to continue doing what he already did down in Florida.
“We signed Davon for a reason,” Covington said. “Obviously, he’s done some great things going back to college into his time in Miami. He did a good job, one, being an early-down player; he was a good leader for Miami; he had some good production there. And so, really for us, we’re expecting him to do the same thing for us. Do a good job, bring his veteran leadership to the room, do a good job with buying into our program, our defense. So far, it’s been great.”
While Godchaux will fill the big nose position that remained very much open for most of the 2020 season, Anderson and Adams are projected to be moved around the formation a bit more — aligning anywhere between the 1- and 5-technique spots.
Versatility is not the only thing they bring to the table, though. Just like Godchaux, Anderson and Adams also have plenty of experience and, as Covington pointed out, knowledge.
“He’s another guy you bring into the room that [is] a veteran player, who has been in different defenses and has different knowledge of the game. Knowledge is power. Smart guy, who brings a hard-working attitude every day,” he said about Anderson.
“We love hard-working players and people in our building. So, for him and Davon to come in here as veteran players who have had proven success around the league and in their careers is going to be a help to our defense.”
Anderson arrived in New England after stints with the Indianapolis Colts and New York Jets. A stout run defender who also has 11.5 sacks on his career résumé, the seventh-year man agreed to a two-year, $7 million deal shortly after Godchaux. Just like his new teammate, he can be considered a lock to make the Patriots’ roster this year — something that cannot be said about Montravius Adams.
Nonetheless, Covington spoke highly about the former Green Bay Packers defender.
“This is a guy that, Day 1, stepped right in as if he was already a Patriot,” he said. “I give him all the credit for his hard work, for everything he’s been doing throughout the offseason — lifting, running, training, rehab, everything, all the above. He gets all the credit for that. As he continues to work and understand our defense, understand how we do things, understand fundamentals and technique, he’s going to be a good player.”
Adams has joined the Patriots on a one-year, $2.5 million deal — a pact that seemingly screams “Prove it!” And prove it he will have to after an injury-filled 2020 campaign that saw him deal with toe and neck ailments before a foot issue forced the Packers to send him to injured reserve in November.
The former third-round selection may not yet have lived up to his draft status, but the early impression appears to be a positive one. Obviously, that would be welcome news to a Patriots team that needs all hands on deck for its defensive line to bounce back after what can very well be called a bad 2020 season.
Long-time members of the group Lawrence Guy and Deatrich Wise Jr. were re-signed in free agency to help. The new additions are also expected to play a major role in this, and the experience they bring to the table should help them transition to New England’s system and the so-called Patriot Way.