Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports

One of Patriots’ biggest weaknesses showed up in Super Bowl LII, and it needs to be addressed this offseason

Ryan Hannable
February 06, 2018 - 1:09 pm

In Super Bowl LII against the Eagles, the Patriots recorded zero sacks and had just five hits on quarterback Nick Foles.

While these stats don’t tell the total story, the eye-test will tell you the Patriots’ front-seven is below average when it comes to the rest of the league.

New England finished the season with 42 sacks, good for seventh in the league, but it’s worth noting 10 came in the final two games of the regular season against the Bills and Jets.

Failing to put any pressure on Foles made it much easier for the quarterback against the Patriots. Philadelphia converted 10-of-16 third downs and were 2-for-2 on fourth down. The lack of pass rush definitely contributed to this.

Even going into the season, this was viewed as a potential problem spot.

After Rob Ninkovich retired, Kony Ealy was cut and rookie Derek Rivers tore his ACL in August, the Patriots were pretty thin when it came to pass rushers. This is why they moved Dont’a Hightower to the outside, instead of the middle of the defense where he's played his entire career.

In Super Bowl LII, Trey Flowers and Kyle Van Noy played 75 snaps (100 percent), while James Harrison was on the field for 69. Then Eric Lee played 16 and rookie Deatrich Wise played just six. These were the players the Patriots had getting after the quarterback.  

Not great.

The Patriots will get Hightower back next season, but it’s clear the Patriots need to add a pass rusher or two this offseason.

Harrison says he wants to play another year or two. He was great in Super Bowl LII, so it makes sense to try and get him to stick around another year and then look to the free agent market to add another. The only problem is there aren’t many good ones available.

Ezekiel Ansah, Adrian Clayborn and Julius Peppers seem to be the best options and with so few options, they will likely be overpaid and this is something the Patriots usually don’t do.

Therefore, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the team use one of its top picks on a defensive end in the draft.

No matter how they do it, it's clear the Patriots need to do something.