FOXBOROUGH – Fresh off earning a Pro Bowl nod for the fourth consecutive season, Mattew Judon was actually critiquing his game instead of celebrating his performance this season. The New England Patriots outside linebacker has a bit of a reason as to why he was in the mood to critique his play.
Judon didn’t record a sack and only had one pressure in the Patriots’ Week 15 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. It’s the fourth game this season that Judon didn’t have a sack as he’s second in the league in sacks with 14.5. Three of those sackless performances came in the last four games, and Judon’s hoping that doesn’t become the norm.
“I didn’t get to the quarterback like I wanted to,” Judon said. “I got a couple hits and hurries, but I’ve got to get the quarterback on the ground. That’s my job. That’s the goal every time I go out there, and I didn’t do that. I’ve got to be better. I’ve got to be better.
“But there’s always next week. You’ve just got to keep going after it, man. You can’t get discouraged. They had a good game plan with what [Derek Carr] did. He got the ball out of his hands fast. That’s what it is. [Expletive], I try, but I’m not always going to get it.”
Part of the reason why Judon didn’t record as many pressures and didn’t get a sack was due to the fact that he dropped back a bit more in pass coverage than usual. Judon roughly estimated that he dropped back in pass coverage 10 times, holding his own on all but one play – which was an 11-yard reception to Davante Adams on a third down on the Raiders’ opening drive.
“I only gave up one catch in coverage, and that’s to a pretty damn good wide receiver,” Judon remarked on his performance in coverage. “It kind of messed them up. You usually see me rushing. When you see me dropping in pass coverage and I’m taking a zone away, it messes some quarterbacks up, and it makes them hold the ball just a little bit longer. It worked for the most part. I let up one pass, and I’ve got to be better on that play, but that’s a good wide receiver that got that catch.”
The Patriots’ lone Pro Bowler added “that’s not always going to be our game plan” to have him play in coverage, but he thinks he can play like a quality defensive back if needed.
“I don’t think our game plan is to make me a cover linebacker or nothing like that. I’m not going to really be off the ball all that much,” Judon said. “But sometimes it is in the game plan, and you’ve got to execute the calls that are being called. And I enjoy it, for real. I go out there and play catch before the game and do all the DB drills. I think I can do. I’ll be a straight DB if they needed.”
Judon was a bit humble though when he shared what his initial reaction was when he found out he was being named a Pro Bowler again on Wednesday.
“It means a lot, man,” Judon said. “I want the team awards, but when you get these individual awards you’re thankful because you’re playing a game and it just means that people watching you are taking notice. I’m very thankful. Everything you get in this league, you earn.”
That’s Pro Bowler Matthew Judon to you 🗣@man_dammn | #ForeverNE#CINvsNE on 12/24 on @NFLonCBS pic.twitter.com/ahnB3N3CWY
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) December 22, 2022
Judon also believes he shouldn’t be the only Patriots player to be named to the roster, citing a pair of young players on the defensive side of the ball were earning of the honor.
“I believe a lot of people on our defense was worthy of consideration,” Judon said. “I think [Josh Uche], [Kyle Dugger’s] having a heck of a season… but, you know, they’re gonna continue to play and they’re gonna continue to progress. And I believe that they could be Pro Bowlers, All-Pros, very soon. Very soon. And I think with work and time, they’re gonna be where they want to be. Them guys just gotta continue to work and continue to get better and we’re going to have a lot more.”
The Patriots will certainly need multiple players on their defense to play like Pro Bowl-quality players on Saturday when they host the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals still hoist one of the league’s top offenses and the Patriots, who are 7-7, will likely need a win in order to at least keep pace in the race to make the playoffs.