The Patriots have a lot of needs to fill this offseason. Chief among them is the tight ends, defensive line, and the interior of the offensive line. But there is one weakened area that has gone relatively unnoticed. The defensive ends.
Yes, Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones are great edge rushers, but they were on the field for a whopping 95% of the total defensive snaps last year. Playing that much will wear out the best players in the world, and it was obvious that the huge toll was taking its effect on Jones and Ninkovich. If New England can get a guy that not only can provide depth behind those two, but actually be productive, then the Pats defense will improve in a huge way.
The best pass rusher available in this year’s free agent class is definitely Jared Allen. He isn’t as explosive as he once was, but he can still bring it. Allen finished 2013 with 14 sacks, and 26 quarterback hits, good for third and fourth in the NFL. He also had a 2.01 ‘WPA’ ranking (‘Positive Win Probability Added), which was second only to J.J. Watt.
Because of his age, the Pats may be able to get him at a decent price. He won’t be cheap, but I don’t think Bill Belichick and company will have to break the bank. Adding Allen will allow Ninkovich and Jones to catch their breath on the sidelines, but it will also enable Matt Patricia to run some ‘NASCAR’ looks, something that has proven to be effective in this league. The thought of Jones, Ninkovich, Allen, and maybe Tommy Kelly rushing the passer is downright scary. The quicker Jones has shown that he can beat offensive guards, and getting Allen a one on one matchup on the outside will usually end well for the defense.
If Allen ends up with New England, the best pass rushing unit in the league may reside in Foxboro.