Former New England Patriots OL Sebastian Vollmer praises coach Dante Scarnecchia

FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 18: Dante Scarnecchia of the New England Patriots watches on before a game with the Indianapolis Colts at Gillette Stadium on November 18, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 18: Dante Scarnecchia of the New England Patriots watches on before a game with the Indianapolis Colts at Gillette Stadium on November 18, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) /

When it comes to the offensive line, no one is better at coaching than the New England Patriots’ own coach Dante Scarnecchia.

Recently, former New England Patriots offensive lineman Sebastian Vollmer was asked to give his thoughts on the current offensive line. He stopped and noted that all Patriots line conversations should begin with coach Dante Scarnecchia. I actually listed Scarnecchia as one of the 50 most important players and coaches for 2017.

Over eight seasons with the Patriots, Vollmer got to know Scar extremely well.

In fact, Vollmer believes that Scarnecchia is one of the greatest offensive line coaches of all-time.

"“One of the greatest who ever coached. I don’t want to take any credit away from the players, but you really have to credit the coaching job they do. You take a Joe Schmo like me and make him a serviceable player; they do this over and over again, and it’s amazing to watch.”"

Scarnecchia actually spent two seasons away from football in 2014 and 2015 as he retired. He returned last season and will be back once again for 2017. At age 69, Scar is as valuable as ever to New England.

Last season, Scarnecchia ended his practice of rotating personnel in and out, and Vollmer believes that was one of the keys to the Patriots success.

"“To me, that’s really the key,” Vollmer said. “The five guys that played, they didn’t rotate and luckily they stayed together.”"

In 2016 the five starters played 90% of all snaps together, and Scar will have most of that group back this season. While he’s grooming offensive lineman, he may also be grooming his replacement. Cole Popovich is returning for a second season under Scarnecchia, so who knows how much longer he’s planning to coach.

Sebastian Vollmer also provided his thoughts on the current players New England has on the offensive line. Here’s what he had to say about each guy.

LT Nate Solder

"“He is one of the most gifted athletes I’ve ever seen. A guy that big [6-foot-8, 325 pound] shouldn’t be able to move as well as he does. He came in my third year, and I remember watching him get drafted — we were at Vince Wilfork’s charity event — and all the cameras turned toward me and asked, ‘Is he going to take your spot?’ The way he carried himself from a rookie to now, I view him as one of the best left tackles in the league. Seeing him grow as a man, a husband, a father, I think a lot of people can learn a lot from him.”"

LG Joe Thuney

"“How many rookies come in and from Day 1 do what he did [start every game and play 1,114 of 1,118 snaps]? You have to prove yourself somehow and be better than a veteran who has done that before. He stepped in. I think it also helps having a good center next to him, who knows the system. Nate, I’m sure, also helped him quite a bit on the other side. But still, you can have Logan Mankins next to you and if you’re not a good player, you’re still not going to be worth anything.”"

C David Andrews

"“Really, really, really smart kid. Knowing the offense as quickly as he did was impressive. I feel like the further out you are, the less you have to know. So centers have to know the system really well, the guards probably a little less and the tackles, it’s sort of like ‘just block that guy.’ The game adjusts less for the tackles than those on the inside. So you think about that, and how Andrews was able to come in and make that spot his own as an undrafted player, it’s a credit to him.”"

RG Shaq Mason

"“I played next to him when they thrust him in pretty early [in 2015], and there was a learning curve. It’s always hard to compare a rookie next to a bunch of veterans, but Bill always says it: The biggest jump you make is between the first and second year because you’ve been through a training camp, you know the plays and you can really hone in on things. Shaq really embraced that. I thought he did well and his run-blocking was outstanding. He had never pass-blocked in college, so he had to learn that. It took him a year, and now he’s flourished.”"

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RT Marcus Cannon

"“From the start to now, an incredible story. The way he started, obviously, with some health issues [non-Hodgkins lymphoma]. Being a swing guy, being a guard, trying to find a spot for him. He’s obviously an incredibly talented player, there’s no doubt about that. Looking at him, he’s like an ox out there — just strong, gifted. He’s a heavy, big man who can still run. Not being able to play myself, but seeing him step in and making that spot his own, I thought he had a really, really good season. It’s gratifying to see.”"

While Vollmer may, of course, be a bit biased, he seems confident in the Patriots abilities as an offensive line. Hopefully, with another full season together, the Patriots line can make another leap and be even better than in 2016.

Next: Patriots Training Camp Battles: No. 3 Cornerback

New England’s offensive line will once again need to play well to protect the soon-to-be 40-year old Tom Brady in the pocket. They also have a ton of weapons in the backfield in James White, Dion Lewis, Mike Gillislee, and Rex Burkhead to run block for. The offensive line should be extremely excited for the 2017 season, and I’m certainly excited to see them play. If the line stays healthy and plays well, this should be another banner year in Foxboro.