The New England Patriots have been forced to deal with injuries to key offensive linemen early in the 2019 season, but that hasn't prevented the group from accomplishing its No. 1 job: Protect quarterback Tom Brady.
According to ESPN, the percentage of dropbacks where Brady has been sacked, hit or under duress is the second-lowest of any quarterback in the NFL.
Having a clean pocket to throw from makes passing easier for any QB. Through Week 3, these QBs have had the least amount of pressure: #DallasCowboys #GoPats #GoNiners #RaiderNation #Colts #ChiefsKingdom #SeizeTheDEY #HTTR #InBrotherhood #Saints @gregcosell | @MattBowen41 pic.twitter.com/nIcutaRJld— NFL Matchup on ESPN (@NFLMatchup) September 25, 2019
The Patriots lost starting center David Andrews for the entire 2019 season after he was hospitalized for blood clots prior to Week 1. Starting left tackle Isaiah Wynn was placed on injured reserve last week after suffering a foot injury against the Miami Dolphins in Week 2. Starting right tackle Marcus Cannon picked up a shoulder injury in Week 1 and missed Week 2 because of it.
Losing three important offensive linemen would derail most teams, but the Patriots have plugged in new players (including offensive tackle Marshall Newhouse) and integrated backups (including center Ted Karras) without skipping much of a beat. Offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia deserves a ton of credit for helping the Patriots overcome these injuries and give Brady enough time to find the open target.
"Dante does an excellent job of developing younger players and getting older players and the playing group to play cohesively, and with good communication, and trust and accountability for each other," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick told reporters last Wednesday. "He's an excellent game-planning coach, and an excellent in-game coach in terms of making adjustments and recognizing what the problems are and fixing them. Very fortunate to have had the opportunity to coach with him for, going all the way back to 1996, for so many years."
The Patriots still need to do a better job run-blocking, but the pass protection has been very encouraging so far, especially with all of these injuries providing a stern test of the offensive line's depth.
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