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The version of Matthew Judon you get at the podium or in the locker room might lead you to believe he's too much of a jokester or too interested in his postgame wardrobe to be as good as he is.
(You should've heard the playful outrage he showed when talking about teammates asking David Andrews style questions instead of him.)
But make no mistake: there's a monster in Mr. Judon, and it wakes up when he lines up across from an opposing offense for the first time each game.
The Pro Bowl edge rusher, who currently ranks second league-wide in sacks (13) behind only Nick Bosa's 14.5, shed some light on his gameday mentality in an interview with author and football writer Tyler Dunne.
In particular, Judon says, you have to believe you're the baddest man on the field at all times.
"There’s arrogance in rushing the passer and thinking you’re going to beat somebody. To sack their best player. You’ve got to have some arrogance," he added. "This isn’t an ‘Uh-oh, excuse me, pardon me’-type of job. This is, ‘I’m running through somebody’s face. I’m going to beat him. I’m the better man.’ Once the whistle blows, once it’s 0:00, that’s why we all meet in the middle of the field and pay each other’s respects. … But for those 60 minutes? Man, I don’t give a f--k about you. I don’t care nothing about you for those 60 minutes. It’s all about the people who wear the same color as me. We band as a tribe and as a group of men — together — for those 60 minutes.
"…Hit as many people as you can. You have to think, ‘They’ll do it to me.’ It’s a kill or be killed method. Modern-day gladiators.”
That approach has seen Judon morph from a very good player into a flat-out star with the Patriots, having now eclipsed 12 sacks in each of his two seasons in Foxborough.
Of course, he has to avoid the late-season slowdown that hurt him down the stretch last year, and teams have started once again to pay him extra attention on the outside. He's been held without a sack in his last two games and only had one pressure against the Buffalo Bills.
Monday night's game in Arizona against a weak Cardinals offensive line and the electric Kyler Murray would be the perfect time for him to break out again and help keep the Patriots' season alive.