Patriots Training Camp Preview: Offensive Line
The offensive line has long been a point of pride for the New England Patriots. But recent years have brought transition, and they will be further put to the test with this offseason’s departure of legendary offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia.
The Pats were able to reinforce their line in the draft this year, and with the return of Sebastian Vollmer, the Pats should once again be able to give Tom Brady top-notch protection.
Here’s our preview of the offensive line.
Mayock relayed the story about the Patriots’ 2005 draft and how it’s a good lesson for anyone. The team was coming off a Super Bowl victory and badly wanted to go defense at No. 32, according to Mayock, but the board was picked clean and they instead were flexible in switching to Fresno State offensive lineman Logan Mankins. Ultimately, the team was rewarded for not forcing a need, and that was Mayock’s main point — teams shouldn’t lock in and must remain light on their feet to pick good football players regardless of position.
I don’t see any slowdown in his game to say, ‘OK, who is better than him right now.’ I think it’s very difficult to say that,’ he said of Mankins. ‘I think there are some tackles who are clear cut, because tackles do more than guards. I think that him and [right guard] Dan Connolly, it’s a good setup, because I think your guard makes your tackle better and your center better because they work so well together, between him and Dan. They’ve had a lot of changes in that line to, on the right side at tackle. I just think that the fact that he lines up and plays every snap, kicks out and plays tackle when they need to in a pinch with no loss of technique, that’s impressive.
The bye week was huge,” he said. “I’m sure everyone saw me hobbling around. It was nice to get that extra week of treatment in … It’s going [well], it’s improved every day.
Mankins is currently getting some extra attention by virtue of the Patriots moving him from left guard to left tackle after starter Nate Solder went down with a concussion two weeks ago. You can count on one hand the number of left guards in the league who could make that move without drowning. Mankins was a tackle at Fresno State before moving inside as a pro, during which he’s been the consummate Bill Belichick player: versatile, physical, and angry. The Patriots have had to lean on their running game to manufacture yards this year because of receiver issues, and Mankins has been the guy who has made that possible. The Patriots are second in Adjusted Line Yards behind left tackle and tops in the league in runs to the middle of the line, which are the two areas where Mankins would have the most noticeable impact.
This is disconcerting…
A troubling trend is developing at left guard for the Patriots. Logan Mankins has earned three significant negative grades as a pass blocker in his last four games – a stretch unlike we’ve seen from him in the five-plus years we’ve been grading his play. His Pass Blocking Efficiency rating is dropping (now 95.5, 36th among guards) and, when combined with center Ryan Wendell’s known weakness in that aspect, is working to widen the danger area for potential problems, not something Brady will like to see given his history with pressure up the middle. With 13 total pressures allowed in the three games (sandwiched around a clean sheet against the Jets) compared to the seven pressures he gave up in the season’s first five weeks, there’s hope that is an extended blip. The Patriots will hope that’s the case and not a downturn of longer hold.
It’s been pretty annoying this year,” Mankins said. “This is just one of those years where it seems like everything gets right and then something else happens. You’ve just got to take it and try to do the best you can to stay out there, and hopefully I’ll be out there sooner or later.