Saturday, March 8, 2014
Ever since Vince Wilfork went down with a season-ending injury against the Atlanta Falcons, the Patriots have been susceptible against the run.
In the four games since Wilfork went out, the Patriots have given up 162 yards to the Bengals (loss), 131 to the Saints (win), 177 to the Jets (loss) and 156 to the Dolphins (win).
Right before Tuesday's trading deadline, Bill Belichick and Co., took a step toward stopping that trend, by acquiring defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga (SOAP-oh-AHH-gah) from the Philadephia Eagles. According to multiple reports, the Eagles got a fifth-round pick from the Patriots while including a sixth.
Sopoaga is 32, in his 10th NFL season and is 6-foot-2, 300 pounds. He is regarded as a strong run stopper. That is exactly what the Patriots have been missing since Wilfork went down.
Rookies Chris Jones and Joe Vellano have played well, but they have not been able to hold up to a strong running game.
He had signed with the Eagles in the off-season, coming from San Francisco. He started seven of eight games and had 18 tackles.
In his career, Sopoaga has 87 starts with 465 total tackles.
Much like last year, when the Patriots literally went down to the last-second to acquire cornerback Aqib Talib at the deadline and shore up a porous secondary, the Patriots have swung a last-minute deal that should improve the defense the rest of the season.
And lest you think he's purely a big man, Sopoaga has one catch in his career, for 18 yards from Alex Smith. So he can move a little bit too.
Mike Lowe has covered the New England Patriots since 1999 for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram and has had a nice view of their emergence as one of the NFL’s premier franchises.
He’s been at the paper since 1982 and has covered everything from a Little League World Series to the Summer Olympics. He is married to Tracie and they have three children and two grandchildren.
Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeLowePPH.