One of the topics of discussion this offseason is obviously going to revolve around the lack of pass rush the Patriots have had over the last couple of seasons.

They’ve definitely been in decline, with 2008 and 2009 seeing this team finish with their lowest sack totals since they won their first championship back in 2001.  Here are the numbers, and results from each season:

New England Sack Totals Since 2001

2001 Tied for 13th with 41 (Won Super Bowl)
2002 Tied For 20th with 34 (Missed Playoffs)
2003 Finished 6th with 41 (Won Super Bowl)
2004 Tied For 2nd with 45 (Won Super Bowl)
2005 Finished 23rd with 33 (Lost in Divisional Round to Denver)
2006 Finished 5th with 44 (Lost AFC Championship to Indianapolis)
2007 Finished 2nd with 47 (Lost Super Bowl)
2008 Finished Tied for 14th with 31 (Missed Playoffs)
2009 Finished Tied For 23rd with 31 (Lost Wild Card Round to Baltimore)

Interestingly enough, looking back year by year at every team who made the playoffs, leading in this category doesn’t guarantee that a team would make the postseason.  However, with the exception of the 2006 Colts, having some success certainly determined how far each team advanced, along with those who actually went on to win the championship.  Again, other that 2006 Indianapolis team – each team who actually won the big one finished at least in the top 13 in sack totals.  Here’s a summary of each of the two teams facing off in the Super Bowl year-by-year since 2001 (the farthest back the NFL had available in defensive standings online in their statstics site). *Super Bowl winners in bold.

2009
New Orleans (T 13th)
Indianapolis (T 16th)

2008
Pittsburgh (2nd)
Arizona (T 14th)

2007
New York Giants (1st)
New England (2nd)

2006
Indianapolis (T 30th)
Chicago (T 8th)

2005
Seattle (1st)
Pittsburgh (T 3rd)

2004
New England (T 2nd)
Philadelphia (T 2nd)

2003
Carolina (8th)
New England (6th)

2002
Tampa Bay (T 6th)
Oakland (T 6th)

2001
St Louis (T 7th)
New England (T 13th)

I found these numbers pretty interesting, especially looking at the totals for teams who actually made the playoffs.  There were many teams who were in the bottom 3rd of this category who got in, but when the dust settled and the final teams were left, it was the teams who had success getting to the opposing QB who were playing for a title.   We’ve seen the decline they’ve experienced the last couple of years, and hopefully they take a look at their options during this offseason to try and bring some pressure back to their defense.