The Patriots are potentially losing a lot defensively this offseason. Devin McCourty, Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins are just a few of the names that are set to hit free agency and New England will be desperate to find replacements to players that have been staples of their defense for years. One player who could help in that regard is Chase Winovich.Winovich didn’t see the field much, but he played well when he was out there. As a rookie, Winovich finished as the 32nd best edge defender in the league according to Pro Football focus. Although that’s not an elite number, it’s a solid ranking for a rookie and Winovich should only get better.
The Patriots have been known to bring rookie’s along slowly, so it isn’t a surprise that Winovich wasn’t out there consistently in 2019 especially considering how much success New England was having with Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, John Simon and Dont’a Hightower on the edge.
Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that Winovich’s playing time was cut as the season went along. After playing 57% of the defensive snaps on opening night, Winovich never reached played over 50% of the defensive snaps in any game for the rest of the season. He only played 3% of the snaps on defense in the Patriots playoff loss to the Titans, by far his lowest percentage of the season.
Perhaps the most impressive statistic for Winovich is that despite his limited time on the field, he still racked up 5.5 sacks during his rookie season which was only 1.5 behind Jamie Collins for the team lead. That number should have fans excited for what Winovich can do as a starter with a year of Bill Belichick’s coaching under his belt.
The opportunity to see the field should be there for Winovich in 2020 and he could be looked at as the top candidate to replace Kyle Van Noy, who played primarily on the edge and is expected to cash in on a massive contract this offseason after a career season. New England acquired Van Noy for a laughably low cost, swapping a 6th round pick for a 7th rounder with Detroit, and signed a relatively team friendly extension in 2017 worth less than $6 million per year. The Patriots aren’t expected to break the bank for Van Noy this time around.
Winovich looks poised to make a huge impact for New England in 2020. For a team in desperate need of young, cost controlled, impact players, it would be a welcome sight.
Photo: (Mark Zaleski – AP Photo)