Patriots Off-Season Profiles: The Offensive Line
Foxborough, MA– During the middle of an expansive New England Patriots dynasty, the team often found themselves competing for Super Bowls and AFC Championships with much less success than they experienced during the outset of the dynasty and in the most recent years. The main reason for this was that the team had improved massively on offense to become an elite offensive machine of talent, but at the expense of a competent defense and a sturdy offensive line.
The Achilles heel of the Patriots, when it was not a defense that gave up massive amounts of points, leaving the offense to compensate for it, was definitely the offensive line. It did not matter how good Tom Brady, Wes Welker, and Randy Moss were together when Brady did not have enough time to get a pass off. The worst of it came during the seasons from 2013 to 2016 because that was when offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia retired. Eventually coaxed out of retirement, Scarnecchia has definitely cemented himself as a firm candidate for the hall of fame, as one of the best offensive line mentors to ever coach. He has helped turn the Patriots’ unit into one of the league’s best.
The starting line currently consists of Isaiah Wynn at left tackle, Joe Thuney at left guard, David Andrews at center, Shaq Mason at right guard, and Marcus Cannon at right tackle. Their respective backups are Cole Croston, Ted Karras, James Ferentz, Brian Schwenke, and Dan Skipper. This group will have a tougher challenge in 2019 without Rob Gronkowski helping them block, but they will undoubtedly be up to the task.
Mason is one of the league’s best guards and arguably one of the best linemen in the league. According to Pro Football Focus, Mason’s 82.1 grade is the highest of all guards. Andrews has also made a case for himself as one of the best blocking centers in the league and he also added two fumble recoveries in 2019 for good measure. All in all, Mason, Cannon, Andrews, and Thuney worked exceptionally together as a unit and protected Brady so he was sacked just 21 times during the year, one of the fewest marks of his career.
The Patriots did lose Trent Brown, the league’s heaviest player, from the offensive line to the Oakland Raiders, but Wynn, who missed 2018 with a torn Achilles, was one of New England’s top youths a year ago and is expected to slot in expertly to the team’s near-perfect blocking scheme. Thank you Scar!
Image via Wikimedia Commons / Thalan