Monday, December 19, 2016
By Kevin Duffy
December 18, 2016
DENVER -- On the Monday night broadcast a week ago, Jon Gruden raised some eyebrows when he declared, "Trey Flowers might be the best defensive player" on the New England Patriots' roster.
Maybe ole Chucky was onto something.
After the Patriots' 16-3 destruction of the Denver Broncos Sunday, and after two more Trey Flowers sacks, veteran defensive end Chris Long offered a similar opinion.
"Trey has been outstanding," Long said. "He's one of our best players."
Flowers now has seven sacks since Week 8. He has posted three multi-sack games, better than Von Miller, Khalil Mack and Olivier Vernon, among others. He has moved all around the defensive line, rushing from the edge and then bumping to the interior on third downs.
"I'm not one to look into sack numbers," Flowers said. "It's more about pressuring the quarterback, more about having him look at the rush instead of looking downfield at open guys. Anytime you can fluster the quarterback and get his mind rattled a little bit is big."
Flowers nearly had a third sack Sunday, but Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian spun out of his grasp. Defensive tackle Malcom Brown quickly finished the play, dropping Siemian for the fourth time.
With the four defensive ends rotating, the Patriots have seen an increase in pass rush production across the board. Jabaal Sheard, who fell out of favor a month ago, had arguably his best game of the season Sunday.
"Just to have strength in numbers is a big thing," Flowers said.
Are the Pats defensive ends feeling fresh in the fourth quarter?
"I wouldn't necessarily say fresh, but fresher than we would," Flowers said. "We just know that any one of those defensive ends can make a play."
A second-year pro out of Arkansas, Flowers appeared in only one game during the 2015 season before being placed on injured reserve.
Patriots cornerback Logan Ryan has been impressed by Flowers' rapid development.
"He's so underrated and he's so young, he doesn't even know how good he's going to be," Ryan said. "That kid's special. We see it. This guy is getting sacks as the nose guard. That's just insane. He's a great player. He's definitely on the up and up in this league."
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