Here's my hypothesis: The pass defense sucked in 2010, NOT because we didn't get a sufficient pass rush, but because D-line tackling sucked. Passing yards allowed and passing first downs allowed both exploded to 22% and 26% over their 10-year averages, respectively. Meanwhile, sacks INCREASED to 36 (20% above the past two seasons) - to less than 5% below 10-year averages. How does that correlate? It doesn't. Total scrimmage (non-special teams) tackles were NOT up significantly over average, in spite of what some folks appear to believe. The defense made 1044 tackles this year vs. a 1013 10-year average. That's two tackles per game. Not a big deal. In fact, the 2003 and 2006 (pretty good) defenses made 1049 and 1054 tackles respectively. So, the total tackle count doesn't appear to correlate to much either. The question is, where did those tackles come from? Mayo was in on 174 of those 1044 - 17%. How did he get all those opportunities? Obviously, somebody between him and the LoS had to be slacking. In fact, over the past 10 years, the top three D-linemen in tackles (always Wilfork and nearly always just the two starting 3-4 DES) typically accounted for about 175 tackles. That's just three guys generating about 11 tackles per game, most of them very near the LoS. Contrast 2010, when all EIGHT D-linemen accounted for a meager 152 tackles. Taking the most productive three, who weren't on the field for every down, of course, the D-line made only about 6 tackles per game instead of 11. Meanwhile, rushing yards allowed and rushing first downs allowed in 2010 were only up over their 10-year averages by about 2% and 9% respectively. In order to keep those rushing numbers relatively respectable with D-line tackle production being down by nearly 50% from average, somebody had to make up for those missing tackles. Mayo, of course. And certainly the other LBs. And probably the safeties. Which meant that they couldn't be in optimum position to defend the pass, even on 2nd-and-long and third down. AND, when our guys were in good pass defense positions, the opponent simply ran for 1st down yardage, knowing that our D-line alone couldn't stop them and that they wouldn't even need to use an extra blocker and take a pass-catcher out of the set to do so. D-line tackle production was really the only significant statistical category that was "off" by an amount proportionate to the deterioration in pass defense. If we truly want to improve our pass defense, we should focus on acquiring a gap-clogging, run-stuffing 3-4 DE. Such a guy might allow our defense to keep an extra guy back in coverage and force opposing offenses to take a pass-catcher off the field in order to effectively run the ball - a two-man swing. Seems to me that going out of our way to acquire a guy specifically to add 5-10 sacks per year wouldn't help nearly as much.