Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sackman Returns

Of the multitude of problems stemming from the 33-10 loss to Pittsburgh last Sunday, the pass rush was one of the chief concerns. Belichick and Co. didn't waste any time fixing it, and they didn't have to turn too far for help.

The Patriots re-signed linebacker Rosevelt Colvin Wednesday, filling a roster spot left open when nickelback Jason Webster was placed on IR.

New England's pass rush had deteriorated significantly with the loss of Adalius Thomas (broken forearm) and the drop in sack totals from Mike Vrabel (12 last year to three this year) and Jarvis Green (6.5 to zero). If Colvin is anywhere near his form during his prior Patriots career, this could be a major help, just in time for a playoff push.

Colvin's five-year stint with New England was marred by injury (including a potentially devastating, season-ending broken hip two games into his first season), and ended due to a high salary-cap figure, but it was impossible to deny the outside linebacker's pass-rushing ability when healthy. He had 26.5 sacks in 61 games from 2003-07, and led the team in 2006 and 2005 and was third in 2004, his first year back from the career-threatening injury.

Colvin could defend the pass, he was able to stop then run, he could notch an interception or two. But that wasn't what he was paid to do. His job was to rush the quarterback.

The signing also adds another wrinkle to the playoffs, should New England make it. Adalius Thomas, arguably the team's best all-around linebacker, is out with what has been reported as a season-ending arm injury. Despite the ominous diagnosis, we are three weeks removed from the injury, and Thomas, still, is not on injured reserve. Because there is no sense to keep a player with no hope of returning active (see Rodney Harrison and Tom Brady), it's fair to assume that Belichick is holding out hope that Thomas can return in time for the playoffs.

If that's the case, with Colvin and Thomas, New England could see its pass rush improve drastically. But first, the Patriots have to get there.

With the return of the Sackman, those prospects are looking better.

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