New England Patriots offensive line key to playoff run
The New England Patriots offensive line is the key to a potential playoff run for the team.
The 3-4 Pats, led by their rookie quarterback Mac Jones, now heads out west for a meeting against a tough Los Angeles Chargers team this weekend.
After inexplicably not making the move for nearly six weeks, the Patriots finally revamped their offensive line. It has proven to be the key to the team’s offensive uptick.
The result is a team that is hanging onto hopes for a Wild Card berth, as three teams will qualify. Right now, they sit ninth in the standing for the seven total playoff spots which include the four division leaders.
Why the New England Patriots offensive line is the key to their entire season
The importance of the offensive line to the team cannot be overstated. It may be instructive to again refresh memories and pinpoint just why this is the most vital unit on the entire team.
There are four primary reasons (maybe more?) one can site. First, the offensive line makes the passing game work by protecting the single most important asset on the team, the quarterback.
The Patriots struck gold in the 2021 NFL draft after sitting tight with the 15th overall pick and waiting for Mac Jones to fall into their laps. It was a big risk.
Indeed, reports are now saying that the team had tried unsuccessfully to trade for Jimmy Garoppolo before the draft. It was a lucky break they were unsuccessful.
Garoppolo is a good quarterback. Yet, the Garoppolo trade failure was actually a big plus for the Patriots as Jones has the potential to far surpass Garoppolo in his NFL career if he can stay healthy.
The New England Patriots offensive line is critical to winning
That’s where his offensive line comes in. They have to keep him upright and give him a clean pocket. They didn’t for about five and a half weeks and it cost them games. Maybe even three.
Yet, once the coaching staff finally rearranged the chess pieces they had at their disposal the entire time, the offensive line and the offense have clicked.
People are finally starting to notice what should have been obvious from week one. Give Jones time to pass and he is a lethal threat to any defense in the NFL no matter how good they may be.
Second, the offensive line is the key to the running game. Even the best backs can’t gain much yardage if the defensive line is in the gaps and in the backfield.
Recent changes also upgraded the running game, though in fairness it was decent even without a top line.
That running game helps Jones and the passing game and vice versa. Defenses can’t overplay one aspect over the other and play-action becomes an even more lethal aspect of the offense.
The third reason the offensive line is critical is that it controls the clock and keeps the ball away from the opposing offense. No ball, for the most part, means no points.
And finally, the offensive line by keeping the ball for a predominance of minutes keeps the defense fresh so that when they are on the field, they can do damage and get right back off again.
New England Patriots offensive line changes are making all the difference
Bill Belichick finally coming to the realization that putting Michael Onwenu at right tackle and inserting Ted Karras into an interior spot (or tackle if need be) has made a huge difference.
In the six most recent quarters both have been on the field, the Patriots have racked up a very healthy 69 points.
That’s no accident. The only shame is that for some unfathomable reason they didn’t do what observers thought they should have in the first quarter of the first game.
That was the Onwenu/Karras moves. They’d have a far better record now and a far better opportunity to be able to lose a game or two and still qualify for a Wild Card berth.
It’s unfortunate, but, it is what it is. Hopefully, they can keep playing well and make up for those initial coaching mistakes.