2013 Patriots finish with most sacks for any Bill Belichick team

For the latter years of Bill Belichick's tenure as the Patriots' head coach, the offense has always been an exercise in consistency. Even this year, with the offense in major disarray for most of the season, Tom Brady still led the offense to the fifth highest scoring total in team history and third highest in the league this year.

What the general public has been concerned about, however, is the strength of the defense ever since the last Super Bowl in Philadelphia in the 2005-06 season.

It's no secret the Patriots have suffered key losses at a number of positions on defense. With no Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly, they have had to rely on spare parts to patch up the defensive line, specialty linebackers trying to fill the void of Jerod Mayo as an every down backer, and the secondary has been a revolving door with various injuries to every position. However, there is one bright spot from this injury riddled season:

Admittedly, sacks are somewhat of a fluky stat that don't tell the whole story of a team's true ability to rush the passer. Regardless, it is still a telling tidbit that the defense is at least getting some pressure on the quarterback and making the secondary's life a little easier.

The sack statistic is also encouraging in both the short term and the long term. For the short term, it is encouraging for the Patriots immediate success in the playoffs.

As New England fans surely know, one of the few ways to beat Tom Brady is to hit him early and often, and maybe the Patriots defensive line can use that detriment on opposing quarterbacks on whoever they meet in the Divisional Round.

However, the long term benefits might outweigh the short term in terms of impact. With Wilfork and Kelly out for the season, 6th round rookie Chris Jones and and undrafted free agent Joe Vellano have been asked to step up in huge ways that they could've never imagined. With the late season addition of Sealver Siliga, these three cast offs have over performed any expectations Patriots Nation could've had for them.

When Wilfork and Kelly return next year, the Patriots will be five deep in interior lineman, and they will be versatile in both running and passing downs. With the stud play of Chandler Jones and the steady play of Rob Ninkovich, it would be safe to assume this Patriots pass rush will be even better next year when fully healthy.

In total, a good pass rush leads to great things on the defense. It pressures quarterbacks into making bad decisions, where ball hawks like Devin McCourty and Logan Ryan would be happy to oblige any ill advised throws. It makes offenses get out of rhythm and doesn't put as much pressure on the secondary to stay in coverage when the quarterback scrambles around.

As long as Tom Brady is around, the Patriots will always have a shot at winning it all, but don't overlook the benefits of a good pass rush.

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