With defensive tackle becoming a need for the Patriots, Lawrence Guy will be called upon more than ever next year to disrupt the trenches.
Nearing free agency, with Malcolm Brown and Danny Shelton set to become free agents, defensive tackle will certainly be a need for the New England Patriots. Regardless of if the Patriots re-sign one of the two free agents, find another defensive tackle through free agency, or draft a fill-in, they won’t have to worry too much.
They still have Lawrence Guy.
Naturally, Bill Belichick did what he’s done so many times before and found a diamond in the rough when the team signed Guy before the start of the 2017 season. Prior to landing in New England, Guy had spent time with the Packers, Colts, Chargers, and Ravens. As a seventh-round draft pick in 2011, it’s easy to see why Guy bounced around from team to team.
Last season, Guy wasn’t the superstar of the defensive line like Trey Flowers was, but the defensive tackle contributed so much more than the stats show.
As a disruptor on the interior line, Guy was able to earn above an elite grade (90.0) on the Pro Football Focus scale. Still only 28 years old, Guy contributes experience and advice to the young pass-rushers, as well as his athleticism and drive on the field.
One of the most notable skills that Guy possesses, which Belichick certainly is a fan of, is the ability to play as a 4-3 defensive tackle or defensive end, and a 3-4 defensive end. The versatility, and deception that comes with it, displayed by Guy can create mismatch nightmares on the defensive line for guards and tackles.
If Flowers leaves the team through free agency, it would be feasible to imagine the Patriots retaining Brown or Shelton. Even if the Patriots are unable to retain either defensive tackle, it wouldn’t be hard to see Belichick lining up Guy as a 4-3 defensive end in some packages throughout the season.
No matter where Guy lines up next season, he is sure to be looked upon as a leader due to his season last year. His raw physicality and pursuit can best be utilized when he is used as an all-out pass-rusher — those skills will mesh fantastically with new defensive coordinator Greg Schiano’s aggressive, suffocating scheme. Although Guy is a gifted athlete like the overwhelming majority of his teammates, he’s at his best when the defense is calling blitz packages and other plays designed to unnerve the quarterback.
While Guy played in all 16 games last season, he wasn’t as heavily called upon as some of the other elite interior pass-rushers throughout the NFL. Next season, combined with the potential losses of his fellow defensive tackles and Schiano’s blitz friendly game-plan, Guy could be looking at a career year.
Given that he and Adam Butler could be the only two defensive tackles on the roster that were also on the previous year’s roster, it’s not hard to envision that Schiano has already started thinking of plays and personnel packages that could maximize Guy’s output in the interior of the trenches.
Even if the Patriots are able to retain former Brown or Shelton, New England will most likely draft a defensive tackle. Belichick, like many old-school coaches and most football coaches worth their salt, preaches upon the importance of a pass-rush as a fundamental to defensive success.
With Guy entering the third season of the four years on his contract, it would be wise for the Patriots to begin to rebuild the interior of the defensive line before he departs, or at least begins to slow down. With fresh faces along the defensive line, Guy could use his position as a leader to help the younger players develop into professionals.
Although only two years of his career have been spent as a Patriot, Guy has found himself a home following a long period of drifting from team to team. After winning his first Super Bowl last year, one can imagine that Guy will have the fire lit as soon as the next season starts.
His play, which anchored the entire defense throughout the playoffs, will be called upon again next year as New England looks to become the first team to repeat since the 2004 Patriots, led by the same quarterback still under center to this day.