Bloomington, Minn. — You hear it all the time in professional sports, the value of a change of scenery. Sometimes that’s all it takes for a talented player who was a bad fit with one team to unlock their potential.
That’s exactly what happened with linebacker Kyle Van Noy.
A second-round pick by the Detroit Lions in 2014, the former BYU linebacker struggled to port to his playmaking ability to the professional ranks. After two seasons plagued by injuries, Van Noy reported to training camp in the best shape of his life in 2015 and started the first seven games for the Lions. Still, he wasn’t making the desired impact, so the team shipped him to New England, midseason, in exchange for a late-round draft pick.
What was initially a dark day for Van Noy has turned out to be the best thing that could have happened for him.
“I wasn’t very happy, at first,” Van Noy said. “Any time that happens, the first thing you think of is yourself and what you did wrong. I wasn’t perfect in Detroit. There was a lot of things that happened, I wasn’t happy about it, then I got to New England and what a blessing.
“My teammates, the coaches, they had their arms open,” he said. “They helped me get up to speed. I remember days I was in there at 5:30 (in the morning) and didn’t leave until 10 (p.m.). Things I did in Detroit, I carried over to New England and it helped me be successful, because I kept on that same regimen. For me, it was remarkable to have a group of guys that rallied around me to be on the same page as them and continue to play football at a high level.”
Playing in a scheme better tailored for his skill set, he quickly carved out a role in the Patriots’ defense. He won a Super Bowl last year as a role player, and returns to the championship game this year as a key starter, helping the Patriots weather the early-season loss of linebacker and team leader Dont’a Hightower.
In Detroit, Van Noy admits he had lost his confidence in his abilities, but has recaptured it playing for the Patriots. He appeared in 13 games this season, starting 12, finishing with a career-high 73 tackles and 5.5 sacks, more than doubling his output in both categories from the previous four seasons combined.
Van Noy is loving life with New England and holds no ill-will toward the Lions. In fact, he’s still pulling for the organization’s success.
“I love Detroit and I wish nothing but success for everyone over there because I love the guys there,” he said. “I believe in (quarterback Matthew) Stafford because he’s a good man and a good player. I wish nothing but success for those guys.”