The New England Patriots will host the New Orleans Saints on Sunday at Gillette Stadium. While New Orleans is primarily known for its high-powered and versatile offense, they also possess a more-than-formidable defense, capable of beating teams in various ways. If the Patriots are to be victorious on Sunday, they will need to exploit the Saints’ weaknesses
Though many Patriots players are expected to garner some attention during Sunday’s matchup, here are three players on defense that might raise an eyebrow when the Pats take the field against the Saints.
Since arriving in New England, Judon has proven that he has both the versatility and adaptability to become the team’s number one player on the edge. While there was some concern about his health earlier in the week (he had been listed on Wednesday’s and Thursday’s injury report with a knee ailment), the 29-year old appears to be ready to play on Sunday. Throughout the first two games, Judon has looked to be everything as advertised, and more. Judon’s presence allows the Pats front seven to play in position, facilitating their ability to set the edge, and stop the run. He has been quite adept at keeping runs from reaching the corner on early downs, as well as providing speed and strength when rushing the quarterback. Against the Saints, look for him to assist his teammates in creating favorable matchups from off-the-ball snaps. This will allow him to put pressure on quarterback Jamies Wilson, while maintaining the flexibility to defend running back Alvin Kamara on designated runs. With New Orleans facing some uncertainty up front on their offensive line, Judon might be primed for a big day on Sunday.
While he may be a rookie, Barmore has performed with the prowess of an NFL veteran, thus far in 2021. At 6-foot-4, 310 pounds, he continues to make quite the physical impression on the Patriots defensive line. Barmore blends his strength and power with great technique. These skills have served him well in the patriots 3-4 defensive setting, which is where the Alabama product has truly shined. He plays with good leverage, and is strong enough to take on double-teams. He locates the ball quickly, chases with good effort and has excellent range for his size. Barmore has the quick hands and flexibility to develop into a disruptive pass-rusher, with the potential to be an eventual three-down player. His ability to push the pocket and assist in coverage earned him an increase to 40 snaps, from his 26 in week one. With the Patriots being tasked to defend a versatile offensive weapon such as Kamara, Barmore is likely to see an increase in snaps for the third straight week, thus enhancing his ability to make an impact on the Pats’ front seven.
Whether deployed in man coverage or zone concepts, Jackson continues to show impressive instinct for finding the football, earning six tackles and two interceptions, thus far in 2021. Though Winston has looked impressive in New Orleans’ season-opener against the Green Bay Packers, he struggled against the Carolina Panthers in Week Two; tossing two interceptions. Jackson will need to keep Winston within his sight-range at all times. If Jackson can prevent his opponents from getting separation, it is likley to force Winston to make throws with which he may be uncomfortable. Though the fourth-year cornerback has had some difficulty in man-to-man coverage, he has taken great strides towards correcting that issue in 2021. Sunday will be a great test for Jackson and the Patriots secondary, with the chance to make an even bigger impact.