I've gone over and over the 2005 season in my head since the day we lost to the Broncos in Mile High. That day ended an up and down season that many will look at as a black mark on the dynasty era. Between the struggles with injuries and the struggles with new unfamiliar faces lining up as team-mates our defense struggled for half the season to find it's identity. During that first half of the season you would routinely see none other than Mike Vrabel chasing down ball carriers that his new teammates at inside linebacker had let get by. He was taking up slack and doing what he could to help. In a time where everything was going wrong on defense, he could still be counted on. And then came the 'turnaround' of the defense after the midway point. Seymour returned, Bruschi returned, we got stability in the defensive backfield.. but overlooked by some it was Mike Vrabel that enabled this defensive turnaround to solidify. His versatility and physical style allowed the move to ILB to be an easy one. His smarts helped him acclimate to the new view of the field with little to no drop off in performance. He brought back a tough mentality to the middle that had vanished with Ted Johnson and Roman Phifer in the offseason. In essense he saved us from the play of Chad Brown and Monty Beisel (which, face it, would have doomed us for another 8 weeks Seymour, Bruschi, Hawkins be damned). With Vrabels move to the inside the opposition could no longer rack up easy 2nd and 5's using the old 'take it up the gut at the crappy ILB' trick. I'm not minimizing what Seymour, Bruschi, Hobbs, or Hawkins brought to the table in the second half, I'm just pointing it out that without Mike Vrabel it'd all have been for naught. So, here's to Mike Vrabel! 50 reporting!