Lazar’s Ten Most Important Patriots in 2020: No. 9, Lawrence Guy

Lawrence Guy serves as another example of Bill Belichick's ability to find diamonds in the rough.

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Out of the 12 defensive players selected to the Patriots’ All-Decade team for the 2010s, Lawrence Guy has the most improbable journey out of those that received the honor.

Unlike others to make the All-Decade squad, Guy wasn’t a marquee free-agent signing like Stephon Gilmore or a first-round pick like Devin McCourty or Dont’a Hightower.

Instead, Guy, a seventh-round pick in 2011, was released by three different teams before sticking with Baltimore and landing in New England as a bargain free agent in 2017.

Despite a modest contract, the 30-year-old is flourishing as the anchor of Bill Belichick’s run defense with the Patriots ranking fifth in run-stop percentage among defensive linemen in 2019.

“Lawrence has been a good player for us since he got here. He gives us great leadership, toughness, effort, and preparation,” head coach Bill Belichick said last season.

“He’s played end, he’s played tackle, he’s played on the nose, he’s lined up in different gaps and had different responsibilities. He’s a versatile player who can play a number of different spots,” Belichick continued.

Over the last two seasons, Guy has emerged in the Patriots’ odd fronts as a 3-4 defensive end primarily lining up over the tackle (five-technique) or shaded in the B-Gap in the trenches.

There, the Pats defensive tackle is one of the league’s best at defeating double-teams, a must for interior defenders in New England’s scheme as they aim to occupy blocks to keep their linebackers clean to make plays. Sometimes, though, Guy does it all himself.

Here’s a textbook example of Guy beating a double-team attempt by the right tackle and tight end to make a run stop. From a technique standpoint, defeating doubles starts with attacking the initial blocker. Guy’s technically sound approach to strike the right tackle, turn his shoulders to limit the surface area for a block by the tight end and shed with his hands to throw the right tackle off and make the play is tremendous teach tape.

Another key to Guy’s expertise in defeating double-teams is block recognition, as Belichick stated last October.

“Recognition is a big part of it, to be able to react quickly and put your body into a good position so that you can play with pad level, leverage, use your technique and the hands that are important to his position to defeat blocks and get off them and separate and make tackles.”

Although he’s at his best as a run defender, Belichick was quick to point out that Guy is also improving as a pass rusher where he tallied three sacks and 21 quarterback pressures in 2019.

The Patriots will use Guy’s strength at the point of attack to occupy blockers in their pressure packages, and every once and a while, he’ll win a one-on-one with a push-pull (snatch) move.

As the anchor of the sixth-ranked run defense based on DVOA, Guy serves as another reminder that Belichick is one of the best in the business at finding diamonds in the rough.