Heading into the season, the offensive line is supposed to be one of the Patriots’ strengths at least on paper.
Sure, they lost guards Shaq Mason and Ted Karras. However, they were able to keep tackle Trent Brown, whose presence on the line was huge after coming back from injury in Week 10, and will move him to left tackle.
They also return center David Andrews, who’s been a consistent solid force inside. Young guard Michael Onwenu has been solid over the first two seasons of his career, and right tackle Isaiah Wynn has been fine too when he’s been on the field. To help replace Karras and Mason, the Patriots drafted guard Cole Strange with their first-round pick.
After getting a solid performance from the unit for most of 2021, the Patriots’ offensive line is projected to have a top 10 season in 2022, via ESPN’s pass block and run block win rate metrics. Specifically, it projects the Patriots have the 10th-best pass block win rate and the 15th-best run block win rate in the league.
“The Patriots lost two fairly strong guards this offseason in Shaq Mason and Ted Karras — they were ninth and 11th in PBWR last season, respectively, with Karras also finishing 14th in RBWR,” ESPN’s Seth Walder wrote. “But the versatile Onwenu is a solid replacement, even though the model will assume Strange is below average — as it does for all rookies.”
If you’ve been following the news out of Patriots training camp though, those projections might seem a bit lofty. Toward the end of the first week of padless practices, the line struggled in pass-blocking during 11-on-11 drills. During the practice on July 30, both Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe were constantly scrambling due to pressure – though some of the blame could fall on the receivers for not getting open as quickly as they should have.
When the pads went on this past Monday, the run game struggled in the first 11-on-11 session. with several of the runs likely resulting in stuffs if they were tackling. When they briefly took the pads off on Wednesday, outside runs still had very little-to-no success.
The Patriots put the pads back on for Thursday’s practice, and the offensive line still struggled. Of the seven run plays called during the 11-on-11 session, four appeared like they would’ve ended in stuffs. There were a few instances where Jones and Zappe had to scramble in the pocket, too. On one play, Jones ran around in the backfield for a few seconds before underhanding a toss out-of-bounds just to get rid of the ball. On another, Jones scrambled before diving forward a few yards just to get a positive play.
The blocking struggles were still apparent too during Friday’s practice at Gillette Stadium, but weren’t as bad as the days before. There were some plays where Jones looked a bit indecisive in the pocket. Once again, though, some of the blame on those plays could fall on the receivers.
As everyone on the Patriots offense is learning a new style and scheme, Strange admitted to some difficulties through the first week of padded practices. However, he’s also embracing the learning process as a rookie.
“I thought it went well,” Strange said Thursday. “It was difficult. There were things that I messed up. But I think there’s a lot I did well. There’s a lot to work on, but I feel good about it, for sure.”
Strange and the rest of the Patriots offensive line hit the practice field again Monday before they get their real test Thursday when they play their first game of the preseason against the Giants.
Sign up for Patriots updates🏈
Get breaking news and analysis delivered to your inbox during football season.
Source : https://www.boston.com/sports/new-england-patriots/2022/08/07/patriots-offensive-line-struggles-training-camp-projection-2022-season/