According to THE BOSTON GLOBE, The New England Patriots signed John Lynch today, two weeks after the nine-time Pro Bowl safety was given his release from the Denver Broncos. Lynch is being brought in to fill the void left after projected starter Tank Williams went down for the year following a knee injury suffered in the Pats’ first preseason game. But it’s also a move that seems to be counter to the Patriots’ stated desire to get faster and quicker on defense.
So why bring Lynch in? In my mind, it’s simple: Bill Belichick couldn’t resist fielding the safety combination of Lynch and Rodney Harrison, who was named “dirtiest player in the NFL” in a poll of league coaches done by ESPN.COM last year. Add that to Lynch’s $75,000 fine for leveling Dallas Clark back in 2005, and Belichick might have just put the most vicious, head-hunting, dirtiest, cheap-shottingest safety combination on the field in the NFL since Chuck Cecil, and, well, whichever safety played opposite Chuck Cecil with the Cardinals.
Of course, the trade off is that any receiver going on a fly pattern probably is going to be a lot happier playing New England. Lynch had lost several steps in recent years, despite not losing his ability to hit somebody hard, which was the reason he became expendable in Denver. The Patriots’ defensive scheme will put Lynch near the line of scrimmage in more of a hybrdi LB/safety roll, to take advantage of his size and power, and hide his coverage deficiencies.
If Lynch stays healthy (no certain thing, given his past history) and takes to the new system and team, it could be another masterstroke by the Patriots of resurrecting the career of a fading star (see: Junior Seau). Certainly, bringing in a veteran like Lynch fits with their past successes, and it seems like a chance worth taking for New England.
And oh yeah, as any writer is obligated to say in any story involving John Lynch: great guy, charity work, respected leader, credit to the NFL, etc.