Friday, April 1, 2016

"Pot Roast" Trims Fat, Inks Deal With Pats

Anyone who wants to know what potential impact nose tackle Terrance Knighton could have for the New England Patriots' defense need only go back to a fateful January evening in 2014 and watch what he did to the Patriots' offense in that season's AFC Championship game.

Knighton sacks New England's Tom Brady in the 2013 AFCCG
That night, the man known as "Pot Roast" man-handled New England's long-time, Pro Bowl left guard Logan Mankins - the impact of which netted him four tackles, two for a loss and one game-clinching sack of Brady on the stat sheet - but it isn't coincidence that Patriots' head ball coach Bill Belichick traded Mankins off to Tampa a few months later, then Mankins announced his retirement from football less than a year after that.

Now, Mankins was a tough dude - full of piss and vinegar, as it were, playing through ACL tears in his right knee before tearing the MCL in his left, keeping the injuries to himself until after the 2011 season. "I could still run," Mankins said in the next season's training camp. "If you can still run, there's no need to see a doctor."

"Just put a brace on, tape an aspirin to it, and go play."

Mankins was old-time tough, and carried as much respect as any player in the game, which made what Knighton did to him in that AFC title tilt all the more shocking.

And it wasn't just Mankins he abused either, as Knighton didn't bother shooting gaps to get into the Patriots' backfield, he simply shoved whoever was in front of him backwards until he and his Denver Broncos linemates had re-established the line scrimmage three yards deep in the New England backfield.

Did some of that have to do with the Patriots' being so injured in their receiving corps that they were trying to get by with retread Austin Collie and special teams captain Matthew Slater running routes? 

Sure, as it enabled the Broncos to concentrate on stacking the box to stop the run and to funnel the pass rush right into Brady's face, but that's beside the point. On that night, Knighton was the best football player on the field, and he shoved the Patriots' interior linemen around like school yard sissies. Probably put Bubble Yum in their hair for good measure.

That Terrance Knighton was a svelte 6' 3" and 330 pound disruptor with violent hands and an upfield push that could have made him one of the best interior defensive linemen in the league, but his inability (disinterest?) in keeping his weight in check wore thin on the Broncos the following season when he ballooned up to over 350 pounds, sapping his explosiveness off the snap.

After losing over 300k in weight related fines, the Broncos gave up on Knighton and allowed him to hit the open market last offseason, but he misjudged the market and priced himself out of many-a-team's budget - so many, in fact, that he ended up in Washington on a one-year fat boy deal, when even his long-time confidant and former coach Jack Del Rio steered clear of the woefully out of shape nose tackle.

The $4 million deal he got from the Redskins was all he could conjure after that, and even after Knighton put up solid numbers in Washington, the Redskins didn't seem interested in bringing him back. That is, until he took a visit with the Patriots. Reports out of Foxborough and from Knighton himself claimed that he had shed 30 pounds and is now back down to his college playing weight of 325 pounds.

If true, Pot Roast could be everything Washington thought they were getting last offseason, and he could be everything that helped the Broncos punk the Patriots offensive line back in 2014.

At his best, he eases the burden on a short rotation because he is versatile enough to stuff the run on early downs, and gets enough push on the pass rush to drive the interior linemen back into the pocket on passing downs, limiting a quarterback's ability to step into throws. At his worst, he is what Washington got last season, for which he still received positive grades for his ability to defend the run...

...which is exactly why New England paid him a whopping $4.5 million on a one-year "prove it" deal. Belichick's philosophy is to sign players to his team based on past performances, but he pays them according to what he sees as their potential - and Trader Bill had a front row seat when Knighton destroyed his offensive line.

And isn't it just like Belichick to sign a player who had given his teams a tough time in the past?

1 comment:

  1. This is quite a nick name and although I have not heard of him he was be a jovial person and tough player just like Vince Wilfork