Sheard was in the mix for several of the Patriots’ best plays on defense on Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams. He still played as part of a rotation with just 28 snaps – no defensive lineman played more than 34 – but he made his presence felt up front. He got a hit on Rams quarterback Jared Goff, recorded two tackles, and got his hand on Goff’s arm on a pass attempt that led to linebacker Kyle Van Noy’s interception in the third quarter.
“That was a great job by Jabaal yesterday,” Belichick said during his Monday conference call. “He rushed well, he played the run well. He’s had a couple of good weeks here so it’s good to see him string them together.”
BOSTON (CBS) — In a Patriots season that to this point has been defined by attrition through injuries and trades, the defense really needed Jabaal Sheard to step up and play better than he has in 2016. Two weeks after he was a healthy scratch against the San Francisco 49ers, he appears to have received Bill Belichick’s message loud and clear.
By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
On why he left Tom Brady in the game late in the fourth quarter with the Patriots up 16 points: “Well, after the game turns out it’s easy to go back and make those comments, make those suggestions. But I’ve seen a few games in this league, seen those double-digit leads evaporate in a minute or two. I know that’s not a big concern when it doesn’t happen but then when it does happen it’s a major crisis and then there’s a lot of second guessing about what should’ve been done or shouldn’t have been done. We just try to keep moving in the game. We’re just trying to win the game.”
Yes, it was the Rams, who are not a particularly talented or well-coached football team. But it was nice to see a player as important to the defense as Sheard step up and play better than he has for most of the season. For a unit lacking playmakers and struggling to generate pressure up front for most of the season, Sheard’s bounce-back is a welcome sight for Belichick.
Jettisoning talented defenders like defensive end Chandler Jones and linebacker Jamie Collins (the latter in the middle of the season) has clearly had an effect on the playmaking (or lack thereof) by the Patriots defense, who are still just 20th in the NFL with 13 total takeaways despite recording three in the past two games. The Patriots’ strong performance against the Rams certainly helps their stats on paper; they are now 10th in the league in total defense and second in points allowed with just 17.3 per game.
It helps, however, that the Patriots have not faced much in the way of strong competition; the defense has looked at its worst when up against legitimate opponents like the Seattle Seahawks. But Belichick no doubt has to be pleased with their effort on Sunday, and it’s no coincidence that the defense looked better with Sheard playing at his best.