One of the weaknesses of the 2017 New England Patriots was their pass rush. Even though the team was tied for the seventh most sacks in the NFL during the regular season with 42, it failed to consistently put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. In order to improve this area of the defense, the Patriots are trying a new approach: According to the Boston Globe's Ben Volin, they are hiring a martial arts expert as a pass rushing consultant.
The Patriots are not the first NFL team to turn to Joe Kim. The Taekwondo black belt was intially hired by Bill Belichick's Cleveland Browns as a strength coach and pass rushing specialist in 1995 and was brought in by nine more teams as well as Penn State University since to help defenders develop their pass rushing moves and hand technique. His most recent gig in the NFL also was with the Browns, who let Kim go after the 2016 season.
The Ohio native, who began his martial arts career in 1974, now has found a new job in the league. In New England, Kim will play an important role in molding youngsters Deatrich Wise Jr. and Derek Rivers. The two second-year players are projected to be core members of the Patriots' pass rushing rotation alongside veterans Trey Flowers and Adrian Clayborn – both will also be among the players to receive coaching by Kim.
Whether adding the veteran coach and martial arts instructor will help improve the performance of the Patriots' pass rush is up in the air. Bringing Kim into the fold, however, is the latest action taken by the team to get better after an up-and-down 2017 campaign. New England also signed Adrian Clayborn, coming off a 9.5 sack season, as an unrestricted free agent in March.