NEPD on NESN: Offensive Line Troubles

Thomas Brady Saints

Brady congratulated Donald Thomas here, but the Pats’ OL was not without their struggles. (Credit: USPresswire)

NEPD Editor: Doug Kyed

I saw a lot of Patriots fans panicking after the Patriots first preseason game on Thursday night, so I wrote a piece on about the Patriots O-Line troubles and how they might be solved.

Below is an excerpt:

The Patriots were missing three All-Pros against the Saints with Sebastian Vollmer (back) and Logan Mankins (knee) injured on the sidelines and Brian Waters at home, having not reported to the team yet. Marcus Cannon, Donald Thomas and Dan Connolly played in place of the three starters from 2011 and their play was a mixed bag. Mankins should be back with the team before the start of the season, and since there’s been no word of retirement from Waters, he should be expected back as well.


5 Responses to “NEPD on NESN: Offensive Line Troubles”

  1. MaineMan says:

    The OL situation is certainly more interesting than it has been in recent years, but not necessarily panic-worthy.

    The lack of NFL experience, especially at Tackle, on the currently healthy/present OL roster is admittedly shocking. Among the “primaries”:

    OT: Solder (1yr), Cannon (1)
    OC/OG: Koppen (8), Connolly (7), Thomas (4), Wendell (4), McDonald (2)

    Behind them, there’s basically a collection of undrafted rookies:
    OT: Kopa (2, PS), Hix (0, IR), Weems (rk), Waldron (rk)
    OG: Warren (rk), Dennis (rk)
    (OT/OG Zusevics on PUP and likely destined for IR with his recently-injured pec)

    It’s intriguing that the Pats have continued to backfill during camp using exclusively rookie UDFAs rather than going after any available veterans. Possibly this is because the Pats know they’ll be getting at least Vollmer, if not also Mankins AND/OR Waters back in time for Week-1 and, meanwhile, they’re giving as many TC reps as possible to the young developmental prospects who need them more. This might also apply WRT any outside veterans they could sign at the end of camp (ala Waters last season). OTOH, considering the general quality of the current FA selection, perhaps they really ARE stuck if Vollmer, Mankins and Waters can’t go for the start of the regular season.

    Here’s Adam Caplan’s listing of current FA Tackles, for example:

    Kareem McKenzie (RT)
    Chad Clifton (LT)
    Tony Pashos (RT)
    Stacy Andrews (RT/G)
    Brandon Keith (RT)
    Mark LeVoir (RT)
    Kirk Chambers (LT/RT)

    However, based on what I saw against the Saints, it’s pass-pro that’s weak. Run-blocking, while far from perfect, seemed much stronger. This may be a good sign, for a couple of reasons.

    First, pass-pro is basically RE-active. It requires good reading, awareness, strength and technique, of course, but its success is also dependent on the effectiveness of the QB and his scheduled targets. Even excellent pass-pro can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s-ear QB and mediocre receiving corps, whereas a good QB and receivers can succeed even with average pass-pro.

    Run-blocking, OTOH, is PRO-active. It’s an actual “play” for O-linemen and involves understanding/executing often complex choreography with perfect timing and requires a different type of quickness and (youthful) athleticism in addition to the skills that pass-pro requires. Excellent run-blocking can make even an average RB look pretty good (see: the Broncos under Shanahan), whereas mediocre run-blocking can hinder all but the most exceptional RBs.

    Second, many signs have pointed toward a greater emphasis on and integration of the running game in the Pats 2012 attack. In a “passing league” in which most defenses are geared up to thwart the aerial attack, often at the expense of stoutness versus the run, a renewed comittment to the ground game only makes basic sense. The Pats now have at least two quick, shifty, versatile young RBs to replace the one-trick, one-speed, straight-ahead BGE. It only makes basic sense to enlist a bunch of young, smart, relatively athletic OL to make the way for them. Add in a lead-blocking FB who can also run and catch (Hernandez/Larsen?) and another TE who can block and catch (Shiancoe/Fells?) and, suddenly, play-action and the RB-screen game become much more significant threats than they have been for the past few seasons – thus helping to keep the pass-rush and blitz off the OL.

    This could all turn out to be way more exciting and effective than almost anyone is guessing right now. And I think Brady will be fine.

  2. DWE2012 says:

    I’ve mentioned the O-line issues many time and was always told I was Crazy!!!

    **Other than the HONEY BADGER…..which by the way is a really stupid name and if he were a PAT, better loose it.

    One top notch O.T. and one Top Notch Guard need’s to come off the top of next year’s draft just like I said shortly after the last draft!!!!!!!!!

    I’ll take 1 high OT & 1 OG + the Badger all day long and be happy with it, even if meant we used all of our picks to get it including the extras we should accrue in the meantime be it a Hoyer trade or any one else OR be it any other way we get more picks until then(which we do need.

    • psw says:

      Honey Badger got dumped for his upteenth drug offense

      • DWE2012 says:

        N/S. Somehow that doesn’t suprise me at all.

        Hopefully, his draft stock does drop and BB & Crew have the oportunity to pick him up….?

        They’ve had some good success with certain guy’s who have had troubles. They know how 2 pick em pretty well and make it work. If the badger’s all around aura is right, if he “interview’s” well…..In a PATRIOT WAY, the’ll take em’. If he deosn’t- They’ll Pass no matter what the pick and hopefull value.

        Drug’s and college athletic’s played by Spoon Fed Delta-Bravos ………
        I should have been able to guess that on my own!

  3. Tim Q says:

    well this sucks. I know the article said not to worry, but I am very worried about the pats o-line.

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