The New England Patriots believe in Davon Godchaux.
Head coach Bill Belichick signed off on the team, signing the 27-year-old DT to a $20.8 million extension. Shortly after the extension was signed, Belichick called Godchaux “one of the best defensive tackles in the league.”
That’s high praise from a legendary coach. However, not everyone seems to have as high of an assessment of Godchaux. One NFL executive who spoke to NFL.com’s Mike Giardi thought the Patriots overpaid.
“That’s a lot,” the executive told Giardi. “Weren’t they bad against the run last year?” the exec asked.
Let’s unpack all of the concepts presented in this situation.
The Patriots Saved Money With The Extension
ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss pointed out some important financial details that help to bring Godchaux’s extension into perspective.
By extending Godchaux and converting a portion of the money due to him into a signing bonus, the Patriots lowered their cap number by $1.5 million, thereby giving themselves $3 million in cap space. This bit of wiggle room might help to facilitate a late signing of a released free agent heading into the season, or it may simply give the organization the flexibility to make a move or two during the season.
Essentially, while the deal served to lock up a player the team likes, it also served a more immediate financial purpose.
Were the Patriots Bad Against the Run in 2021?
The answer to the question the exec asked rhetorically is yes, the Patriots were pretty bad against the run in 2021. They ranked 22nd overall, allowing 2,103 yards in total and 4.5 per carry. The Patriots and the Steelers, who were the worst run defense in the NFL, were the only two playoff teams ranked 22nd or lower in that category.
New England has to get better against the run, that’s no question, but can the team’s struggles to stop the opponent’s ground games be blamed on Godchaux?
That seems unfair and like an overly simplistic explanation for the 22nd-ranked run defense. In 2021, the Patriots also had a group of linebackers who lacked the athleticism to fly around the field, making plays against the run and pass. While the defensive line is the first point of defense against the run, and they deserve some blame, less-than-stellar play from the linebackers must also be recognized.
Was Davon Godchaux Really One of the Best DTs in the NFL in 2021?
Belichick made a bold statement calling Godchaux “one of the best DTs in the league,” but he left himself some room with the claim. How wide do you cast the net when talking about “one of the best?” Is that Top-10, Top-20, or Top 25? If Belichick meant Top-50, and you put a ton of stock in the Pro Football Focus ratings, he was on the money with his ranking of Godchaux.
According to PFF.com, Godchaux was the highest-ranked Patriots interior defender in 2021. He ranked 42nd overall amongst all players at his position, scoring 63.7. There appears to be a belief that Godchaux will continue to improve and that he and second-year-pro Christian Barmore are headed for big things in 2022.
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