New England Patriots: 3 biggest obstacles heading into 2018 NFL season

New England Patriots Isaiah Wynn (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
New England Patriots Isaiah Wynn (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images) /
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New England Patriots
(Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images) /

1. The offensive line

In a Week 2 preseason win over the Philadelphia Eagles back in August, the New England Patriots first round pick Isaiah Wynn went down with a torn right achilles, keeping him out for the rest of the season.

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He came in to play right tackle late in the first quarter, and it was his first taste of preseason action. The blow to the offensive line only made things worse for a team that already lost Nate Soldier to the New York Giants.

New England must now rely on backup Trent Brown to protect Brady’s blind side, something that could cause problems considering Brown has only played right tackle for most of his career with San Francisco.

The seventh round pick from 2015 is ready to step-up into this uber-important role, and  offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia has spoken highly of him, saying he’s got ‘dynamic skills’ for the position.

New England did finish third in offensive line play, according to Pro Football Focus, and still have Joe Thuney, Dave Andrews, and Shaq Mason returning to help protect Brady.

Extending Mason’s contract to 5 years and $50 million was integral, especially since he’s routinely been one of the best run blockers in the league since 2016. In fact, on outside zone runs, the Pats averaged 1.76 yards-per-carry, which was good for sixth in the league in 2017, according to Pro Football Focus. He’s guaranteed at least $30 million over the next three years.

With uncertainty at left tackle, Belichick will most likely use outside runs to the right side so Brown can become comfortable in his newer situation on the left. Either way, Brady’s blind side protection needs to be top priority, considering he’s 41.