Pats OLine Discussion

Saints Rest

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I think most people on this board, if not nationwide, see the Pats' OLine as their biggest question mark right now, and maybe their biggest weakness, at least on the offensive side of the ball. This is especially odd and disconcerting as it certainly appeared to be a rock-solid strength heading into the year. So I thought a thread to discuss it specifically would be valuable. I'm really hoping that our O-Line gurus can weigh in on the nuts and bolts.

My initial takeaway from the pre-season is that the first thing BB should do is tell Patricia that he has one job: the offensive line. Take any play-calling responsibilities off his lap. I read an interview with Matt Cassell about the Pats' struggles this pre-season, and in addition to him saying that the offense looks pretty similar, barring some possible terminology changes, to the one that he was running 14 years ago. But what I found particularly enlightening was his comment about play calling. He said that when he was there, it was never solely the de facto play-caller making all the decisions, that Bill would chime in or that (and this is the pertinent point) that Josh would often ask Scar for his thoughts, since Scar's focus was purely on the o-line. In addition to that, I feel like we've seen thru the years many examples of the O-Line coach talking to the O-Line on the sideline while the OC talks to the QB or maybe to the QB and receivers. Bottom line, I think they need to give Patricia just the one focus and tell him "DO YOUR JOB."

My other personal sense from this offseason is that the Pats have to settle on their starting 5 and hammer on reps. These 5 guys need to know exactly how each of the unit will act and react in every situation. I fear that is it still not clear to anyone, either on the team or the rest of us, who is playing RG or RT. And that is assuming (and I think it's fairly safe to assume) that the starters will include Brown at LT, Strange at LG, and Andrews at C. But I wouldn't bet my kids' lives on those either.

Finally, I think the depth guys are fairly uncertain as well. Cajuste, Herron, Ferentz, Sherman, Hambright, Murray, Durant, et al. Who makes the 53? Who is active on gamedays?
 

BaseballJones

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I went into this camp thinking that an OL of Brown, Strange, Andrews, Onwenu, and Wynn was going to be one of the better lines in the league. But their performance this preseason has been pretty dismal as a group (not that it's been this specific group together much). If they do their job well, this offense will do serious damage. If they don't, they'll struggle to accomplish anything.

I am still worried about the defense but right now, the offensive line is the #1 issue for me that this team needs to figure out.
 

cshea

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I wonder if they shelve the outside zone stuff until they feel more conforatble with it. SSS and all but those plays were disasters against Vegas, the inside stuff was fine (Reiss had the 1's at a 5.5 YPC on those types of plays). Now that they are in game planning mode for the regular season, I wouldn't think Bill would force the issue running stuff the team can't execute consistently in practice let alone a game.

I'm not well versed in line play but it seemed like the pass pro was OK. I thought Mac stepped into his 2 sacks which is a separate issue.
 

lexrageorge

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Hopefully the projected starting 5 OL are all now healthy (Wynn's on-again, off-again availability is a concern as he's struggled with a lot of injuries in his career) and can practice together for 2 weeks straight. Cajuste and Herron seem to have 2 of the remaining 3 roster spots locked up, and the battle for the 3rd spot shouldn't really be distracting for the rest of the team.
 

Shelterdog

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Color me unconcerned about the o-line. It seems the outside zone stuff isn't working well yet but I trust that they'll either improve it or drop it. I know it's unconventional for a coach to have both significant playcalling responsibility and o-line responsibility but I'm sticking with "don't worry about the coaching being a problem until the coaching is actually a problem" and that's worked well for twenty years--and they do have another line coach in Bill Yates. (Eventually the coaching will be a problem but I'll worry about that then).
 

Cellar-Door

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I'm most concerned about Wynn. The line as a whole has struggled, but it's a new combination and that can take time to work together. Wynn just looks bad though, he got beat a ton by some very mediocre players in pre-season. Problem is the 2nd worst performance was Cajuste. Brown is the only tackle I trust, I trust Onwenwu at tackle more than the other actual tackles.
 

CoffeeNerdness

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Brown is the only tackle I trust
There seems to be some turbulence there. Benched v. Carolina. Singled out by Bedard (ymmv) for sloppy play. There's also the position switch, learning a new offense, and he lost a ton of weight. I was hoping he'd be an anchor there but it seems there's maybe some cause for concern.
 

Saints Rest

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I'm most concerned about Wynn. The line as a whole has struggled, but it's a new combination and that can take time to work together. Wynn just looks bad though, he got beat a ton by some very mediocre players in pre-season. Problem is the 2nd worst performance was Cajuste. Brown is the only tackle I trust, I trust Onwenwu at tackle more than the other actual tackles.
I wish they had started the season with Brown and Onwenu at LT and RT, and Strange and Wynn at LG and RG (or reversed). And then stuck with it. Onwenu as a rookie RT was rated very highly, but he has struggled a lot inside.
 

NortheasternPJ

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I think most people on this board, if not nationwide, see the Pats' OLine as their biggest question mark right now, and maybe their biggest weakness, at least on the offensive side of the ball. This is especially odd and disconcerting as it certainly appeared to be a rock-solid strength heading into the year. So I thought a thread to discuss it specifically would be valuable. I'm really hoping that our O-Line gurus can weigh in on the nuts and bolts.

My initial takeaway from the pre-season is that the first thing BB should do is tell Patricia that he has one job: the offensive line. Take any play-calling responsibilities off his lap. I read an interview with Matt Cassell about the Pats' struggles this pre-season, and in addition to him saying that the offense looks pretty similar, barring some possible terminology changes, to the one that he was running 14 years ago. But what I found particularly enlightening was his comment about play calling. He said that when he was there, it was never solely the de facto play-caller making all the decisions, that Bill would chime in or that (and this is the pertinent point) that Josh would often ask Scar for his thoughts, since Scar's focus was purely on the o-line. In addition to that, I feel like we've seen thru the years many examples of the O-Line coach talking to the O-Line on the sideline while the OC talks to the QB or maybe to the QB and receivers. Bottom line, I think they need to give Patricia just the one focus and tell him "DO YOUR JOB."

My other personal sense from this offseason is that the Pats have to settle on their starting 5 and hammer on reps. These 5 guys need to know exactly how each of the unit will act and react in every situation. I fear that is it still not clear to anyone, either on the team or the rest of us, who is playing RG or RT. And that is assuming (and I think it's fairly safe to assume) that the starters will include Brown at LT, Strange at LG, and Andrews at C. But I wouldn't bet my kids' lives on those either.

Finally, I think the depth guys are fairly uncertain as well. Cajuste, Herron, Ferentz, Sherman, Hambright, Murray, Durant, et al. Who makes the 53? Who is active on gamedays?
I agree with you on this and it was obvious even in the first preseason game that Andrews was on the sideline with the O-Line going over stuff on a Surface because Patricia was somewhere else. Do other teams just not have O-line coaches? It seems like something that's a constant amount of work to improve on and really the key to your entire offense. Seems important.
 

RedOctober3829

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I agree with you on this and it was obvious even in the first preseason game that Andrews was on the sideline with the O-Line going over stuff on a Surface because Patricia was somewhere else. Do other teams just not have O-line coaches? It seems like something that's a constant amount of work to improve on and really the key to your entire offense. Seems important.
Every team from high school to pros has an offensive line coach. There's no possible way Matt Patricia could be both de facto OC and O-line coach. There's just way too much to do with the line in order to do both.
 

radsoxfan

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What’s the current (very early) thought on Strange. Has he impressed? I feel like I’ve heard some mixed reports though nothing particularly exciting.

Is he looking at a starting role because he’s been good or just because he was a 1st round pick and we don’t have better options?
 

NortheasternPJ

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Every team from high school to pros has an offensive line coach. There's no possible way Matt Patricia could be both de facto OC and O-line coach. There's just way too much to do with the line in order to do both.
I phrased it wrong but my question is really is there any other team that actually doesn’t have one at this level in recent memory? I went thorough every staff this year and most teams have not one but usually 2 even a couple with 3 people dedicated to the offensive line

I’ve generally been a In Bill We Trust guy for the most part but if they struggle there’s no excuse to have 75% of a coaching staff.
 

RedOctober3829

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I phrased it wrong but my question is really is there any other team that actually doesn’t have one at this level in recent memory? I went thorough every staff this year and most teams have not one but usually 2 even a couple with 3 people dedicated to the offensive line

I’ve generally been a In Bill We Trust guy for the most part but if they struggle there’s no excuse to have 75% of a coaching staff.
Without looking it up, I can equivocally say that no team has ever not had an offensive line coach. It's literally the most important position in football. Some say QB, but if you can't block it doesn't matter who you have back there.
 

Shelterdog

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I phrased it wrong but my question is really is there any other team that actually doesn’t have one at this level in recent memory? I went thorough every staff this year and most teams have not one but usually 2 even a couple with 3 people dedicated to the offensive line

I’ve generally been a In Bill We Trust guy for the most part but if they struggle there’s no excuse to have 75% of a coaching staff.
The Pats have two listed o-line coaches (Patricia and Yates); it's been a long time, and maybe ever, since I saw an o-line coach engaged in playcalling the way Patricia is. (Maybe Joe Philibin did a little in Green Bay before becoming a full time offensive coordinator?) It's definitely unusual but assuming Yates is a normal full time offensive line coach then I don't think there's any reason to think the o-line is undercoached. (Poorly coached is a different question and there's no reason right now to think they're particularly well-coached).
 

RedOctober3829

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The Pats have two listed o-line coaches (Patricia and Yates); it's been a long time, and maybe ever, since I saw an o-line coach engaged in playcalling the way Patricia is. (Maybe Joe Philibin did a little in Green Bay before becoming a full time offensive coordinator?) It's definitely unusual but assuming Yates is a normal full time offensive line coach then I don't think there's any reason to think the o-line is undercoached. (Poorly coached is a different question and there's no reason right now to think they're particularly well-coached).
During the games, Yates has been in the press box at least for the first half. So that leaves Patricia down there to do his playcalling duties plus sit with the OL and do adjustments. It's just not the way things should be done. The OC should be able to talk to the QB coming off the field then bounce around to different position groups(or at least talk to the position coaches on the head set) while the defense is on the field. Phil Perry said as late as Friday that he continues to talk to other executives around the league and they're still flabbergasted as to what the Patriots are doing with the offensive staff.
 

Shelterdog

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During the games, Yates has been in the press box at least for the first half. So that leaves Patricia down there to do his playcalling duties plus sit with the OL and do adjustments. It's just not the way things should be done. The OC should be able to talk to the QB coming off the field then bounce around to different position groups(or at least talk to the position coaches on the head set) while the defense is on the field. Phil Perry said as late as Friday that he continues to talk to other executives around the league and they're still flabbergasted as to what the Patriots are doing with the offensive staff.
Didn't realize that about Yates. I guess we'll see what they do in-season but it's absolutely bizarre if there isn't a full time o-line coach on the field.
 

Jinhocho

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I phrased it wrong but my question is really is there any other team that actually doesn’t have one at this level in recent memory? I went thorough every staff this year and most teams have not one but usually 2 even a couple with 3 people dedicated to the offensive line

I’ve generally been a In Bill We Trust guy for the most part but if they struggle there’s no excuse to have 75% of a coaching staff.
Isnt it really that they have moved away from traditional labels over the last decade? I do not quite understand it, but it is now on both sides of the ball. They have the coaches, but seem to have gone less hierarchical.
 

brendan f

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I have faith they will figure out the line in time. There's been, in my estimation, a lot of wasted ink and loud voices complaining about who is calling what and where. We'll have to see what the O-line roster looks like in the coming days but almost all of these guys are competent, including the depth pieces. Lazar's take is that they have looked better with the traditional scheme and less so with the zone blocking. This is outside my realm, so others feel free to correct me, but a lot of this may be due to the fact that zone blocking seems to take a lot of coordinated effort and time as a unit working together. If the Pats are serious about using more zone blocking it could simply take time for BB to locate the best guys and then for those individuals to work on these schemes. I know others have pointed out the Pats have used these schemes in the past--I'm going by the reporting of Lazar that they are potentially looking to do this more.
 
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Saints Rest

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I think the primary goal of 2021–including the roster construction—was to determine whether Mac was a guy to build around. I think he passed the test and Bill is now building a roster and system that plays to Mac’s strengths – which is to say, spreading the ball around (hence priortizing WR and TE depth over talent), within 10-15 yards (only a few downfield threats to keep defenses honest) and solid runners and an OL that is more balanced in its north-south and outside schemes.

Overall, the whole picture to me looks like Bill is prioritizing flexibility and diversity over doing one or two things really, really well. And my guess is that this roster and system isn’t there yet and it could be ugly for a number of weeks – or possibly even all season. But I think it is all based on Bill‘s belief that Mac has plus (or even elite) decision making skills that he wants to build around – and the more options he has when he goes under center, the more dynamic the offense will be.

I could be completely wrong. But this is how I’m reading things.
The above quote is from the roster cutdown thread, but my question, triggered from this quote, belongs in this thread:
Much has been written over the last few months about the Pats incorporating more zone-blocking for the O-Line and that that has maybe impacted their preparation this season. But is it possible that the reason for the switch to zone schemes is tied to the idea Van brought up above, that "Bill is now building a roster and system that plays to Mac’s strengths?" Is it related to RPO's which some on this board have advocated for?

I'll hang up and listen.
 

BaseballJones

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We are going to look back on the Strange pick like we did with Logan Mankins. Why take him there? Oh yeah, because he’s an absolute stud, that’s why.

(I still think it’s ok to question when they took him but he will prove to have a pretty awesome career.)
 

DeJesus Built My Hotrod

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There were some suggesting that Strange had been benched in the Miami game and was a waste of a draft pick. He was pretty great today against the Steelers, and some great reps against Cam Heyward

View: https://twitter.com/BenFennell_NFL/status/1571595620237950979


Line was excellent today. It is notable that the line had success in the last drive on power runs and outside zone blocking.
Thanks for posting. Heyward is almost a decade older than Strange so he has several NFL lifetimes in terms of experience. More importantly, Cam is a beast. That's some performance.
 

Shaky Walton

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Watching that Baldinger breakdown makes me wonder why the Pats can't run block and consistently, and maybe they can, and how much the Steelers line without Watt contributed to what were seeing.

All that said, going into Pittsburgh and not having the QB touched in the backfield is one amazing achievement.

If you didn't watch the game and only read what the Boston Globe had to offer thereafter, you would have thought that there were very few positive signs coming out of that victory. But football is won and lost on the lines, and the performance Sunday of the Pats' offensive line is reason for some guarded (no pun intended) optimism.
 

lexrageorge

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Keep hearing complaints about the Patriots run blocking. Here are the yards gained for each Patriots run attempt (ignoring kneel downs and nullified plays):

-2: 1
2: 3 (1 Mac Jones scramble, 1 TD run by Harris)
3: 6
4: 5 (2 by Mac Jones)
5: 5 (1 by Mac Jones)
6: 1
7: 1
8: 2 (1 was 2nd-and-17 carry by Stevenson)
9: 2
16: 1

Of the 23 meaningful rush attempts by the running backs, only 2 were true failures: one a 2 yard loss in the final drive of the 4th quarter, and one 2 yard pickup earlier in the 4th that eventually led to a Patriots punt. But otherwise, those runs are reflective of really strong and consistent run blocking.

Obviously, sample size of one game, which followed a game where the run blocking was much worse.
 
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jezza1918

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Keep hearing complaints about the Patriots run blocking. Here are the yards gained for each Patriots run attempt (ignoring kneel downs and nullified plays):

-2: 1
2: 3 (1 Mac Jones scramble, 1 TD run by Harris)
3: 6
4: 5 (2 by Mac Jones)
5: 5 (1 by Mac Jones)
6: 1
7: 1
8: 2 (1 was 2nd-and-17 carry by Stevenson)
9: 2
16: 1

Of the 23 meaningful rush attempts by the running backs, only 2 were true failures: one a 2 yard loss in the final drive of the 4th quarter, and one 2 yard pickup earlier in the 4th that eventually led to a Patriots punt. But otherwise, those runs are reflective of really strong run blocking.
To your point, I listened to the second half of this game on the radio and Zolak was pretty consistently applauding the run blocking. Making a point of saying he couldn't remember a single play that was blown up in the backfield (this was before that 2 yard loss).
 

BaseballJones

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Keep hearing complaints about the Patriots run blocking. Here are the yards gained for each Patriots run attempt (ignoring kneel downs and nullified plays):

-2: 1
2: 3 (1 Mac Jones scramble, 1 TD run by Harris)
3: 6
4: 5 (2 by Mac Jones)
5: 5 (1 by Mac Jones)
6: 1
7: 1
8: 2 (1 was 2nd-and-17 carry by Stevenson)
9: 2
16: 1

Of the 23 meaningful rush attempts by the running backs, only 2 were true failures: one a 2 yard loss in the final drive of the 4th quarter, and one 2 yard pickup earlier in the 4th that eventually led to a Patriots punt. But otherwise, those runs are reflective of really strong and consistent run blocking.

Obviously, sample size of one game, which followed a game where the run blocking was much worse.
Yeah, that's just nice consistent positive yardage in the run game, which is really what you want. Of course it would be great to break a few long ones, but if they can just get good, positive yards almost every time they hand off, that's awesome.
 

lexrageorge

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Yeah, that's just nice consistent positive yardage in the run game, which is really what you want. Of course it would be great to break a few long ones, but if they can just get good, positive yards almost every time they hand off, that's awesome.
The fact that they averaged 4.7 ypc on their runs (excluding their 3 kneel downs) is even more impressive given that they did not break any long runs, excluding the one that went 16 yards. A long run (defined here as one over 20 yards) is a bit of a fluke play anyway, so the fact that they didn't break any is not really reflective of anything. Get enough consistent run blocking from game to game and eventually you'll break the long one.
 

cshea

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FWIW, I thought it was interesting that after week 1 Barnwell wrote about the Pats offense and offensive line in general. Specific to the running game, he makes the case that the backs were more of a problem than the blocking. I'm not sure of the quality of the stat he cites, but according to Next Gen Stats the backs should've averaged over 5 a carry with the blocking they got that day. In reality they got 3.5 per carry.

https://www.espn.com/nfl/insider/insider/story/_/id/34574855/should-seven-super-bowl-contenders-worried-nfl-week-1-questions-packers-patriots-49ers-raiders

The offensive line has been a concern during the preseason, but the running backs deserve their fair share of the blame. The Pats averaged just 3.5 yards per carry and generated minus-0.24 EPA per rush attempt, with the latter standing as the third-worst mark of Week 1. Per the NFL Next Gen Stats rushing model, though, average backs with the same blocking as what we saw from the Patriots on Sunday would have gained just over 5.0 yards per carry.
 

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SMU_Sox

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While Onwenu and Strange have only committed 1 penalty each Andrews has committed 3 (11th highest for a center in the league), Wynn has 8 - most in the league for OT, and Brown has 7 which is the 2nd most in the NFL for OT. 20 penalties in 7 games or roughly 3 a game is an untenable rate. That's a dreadful performance.
 

BaseballJones

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WAYYYYYYY too many penalties for this OL. It's just been a host of drive-killing flags. Hard to get the offense going when you're backing up.
 

katnado

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While Onwenu and Strange have only committed 1 penalty each Andrews has committed 3 (11th highest for a center in the league), Wynn has 8 - most in the league for OT, and Brown has 7 which is the 2nd most in the NFL for OT. 20 penalties in 7 games or roughly 3 a game is an untenable rate. That's a dreadful performance.
Nflpenalties.com has Wynn with 7, Brown with 4, Andrew's, Strange and Onwenu with 1 each. Assuming they missed some? It's the only place I could find penalty stats for O-line. So obviously they missed some and I'm terrible at Google? I always read your catches on these things as gospel so help? Haha
 

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The parentheses indicates penalties that were not accepted or off-set. So Wynn is 8-1 = 7, Brown is 7-3 = 4, etc.
56895
 

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The biggest issue is right tackle. They had another 3 penalty day. Cole Strange had 2 holding calls and Wynn was the 12th man in the huddle. Andrews is having an off year.

I don’t know how they fix RT. Neither guy can handle pass pro. Cannon was beaten on basically every true pass set. That’s not an exaggeration. He doesn’t have the foot quickness to either get enough depth or shut down the inside counter. It’s bad. Wynn can’t get enough depth in pass sets and can’t handle power. It’s just a disaster.
 
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it’s been reported that Wynn’s struggles have been related to his inability to simply do the opposite, footwork-wise, that he does at LT, his more comfortable position. Is it too late into the season to experiment with swapping Brown and Wynn back to the sides they played last year? I appreciate that it may be too late, and could just further foul things up, but it’s pretty disastrous at this point, so maybe it can’t hurt?
 

Shelterdog

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Cajuste has played a little right tackle if memory serves and he didn't look bad (or at least didn't do anything completely awful that I remember). Maybe give him a shot?

Per PFF he's played 77 snaps at RT (basically all of his playing career) all last year and all kind of poorly.
 

BaseballJones

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The biggest issue is right tackle. They had another 3 penalty day. Cole Strange had 2 holding calls and Wynn was the 12th man in the huddle. Andrews is having an off year.

I don’t know how they fix RT. Neither guy can handle pass pro. Cannon was beaten on basically every true pass set. That’s not an exaggeration. He doesn’t have the foot quickness to either get enough depth or shut down the inside counter. It’s bad. Wynn can’t get enough depth in pass sets and can’t handle power. It’s just a disaster.
One of those holding penalties on Strange came right after the late hit call that nullified a bad Mac INT. And that call against Strange was incomprehensibly bad. All Strange did was turn the defender and push him to the ground. No hold whatsoever.

The RT situation is a disaster though.
 

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kyed: The Patriots won despite their offensive line’s performance in pass protection. Right tackle Marcus Cannon, rookie left guard Cole Strange, center James Ferentz and reserve Isaiah Wynn all were credited with giving up sacks on PFF’s first review. Wynn filled during the game for both Cannon and Strange. The rookie also was flagged twice for holding, while Cannon allowed six total pressures. Give credit to Patriots right guard Michael Onwenu for holding up and not being charged with any sacks, quarterback hits or hurries.
 

Harry Hooper

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So Kyed has Wynn playing some snaps at left guard today? I missed that during the game.
 

LastTripleCrown

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Can someone with more expertise explain why Strange is being benched? Is he hitting a rookie wall? He seemed to have a good start to the year to my untrained eye.
 

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Trying to remember where I read it -- think it might have been Reiss -- but it was posited that Andrews being out has hurt Strange because of how much he'd help the rookie out.