New England Patriots defensive end Deatrich Wise has been an important member of the franchise’s front four in his rookie season, but fans are worried about him hitting a rookie wall with his productivity declining in recent weeks.
The fourth-round pick and Arkansas product created 3 sacks, 9 quarterback hits and 5 pressures in his first 5 games of the season. He’s been rewarded for that production with more playing time in the last 3 weeks but has produced no sacks, 1 hit and 2 pressures during that span.
However, Wise still isn’t buying into the idea that he’s fading late in games or that he’s hit a rookie wall.
“Personally, I don’t believe in the rookie wall,” Wise said according to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald. “I think it’s all a mindset, and I believe I have a strong mindset to overcome anything.
“In my head, I don’t get tired. I tell myself I don’t get tired. If I play 60-70 snaps a game, I don’t get as tired. In previous games, I only played 15-20 snaps, and I still had the same stamina. I worked harder in practice, so the game would be easier.”
Defensive end depth was an area of concern entering the season for New England, so Wise’s emergence was an important development and any decline in productivity is going to be exacerbated by the same reasoning. That’s a lot of pressure considering the general ebbs and flows of a rookie season.
So it’ll be interesting to see if the correlation between playing time and waning production continues and what the Patriots might attempt to do about it. Out of pure necessity, it seems as if they’ll allow the rookie to play through his trouble.
However, if Wise is wrong and the rookie wall is, in fact, a thing, they’ve got to find pressure elsewhere. Without many options at defensive end, that could mean major philosophical shifts defensively.
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