An optimistic view of the Patriots offensive line

I've been debating writing an article bashing Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon ever since last night's game. It's been tough to watch the Patriots offensive line in these two preseason games. The quarterbacks have rarely had time in the pocket and it seemed like every time Shane Vereen was handed the ball last night, he had three Eagles surrounding him in the backfield.

The play that really epitomized it all for me was when both Cannon and Solder were beat on a play that led to a strip sack of Brian Hoyer. It was getting embarassing by that point. The 300lb Solder was getting beaten badly by Eagles defenders 100 lbs lighter than him.

“I was getting up under him a lot," said Philly's Brandon Graham on Solder. "and that’s probably the best thing".

And as for Cannon? Graham said that he felt they should have gone after him more.

Now, you could say this is just preseason and that it's too early to panic. However, this wasn't a problem resulting from vanilla schemes, this looked to just be a flat out getting outplayed one on one situation. With Vollmer's injury history on the right side and there not really being a back up left tackle, this was very concerning.

However, there's reason for optimism. At least for Solder.

Greg Bedard,
Yes, the Patriots’ offensive line struggled mightily again but the opinion here hasn’t changed that long-term, they will be fine. The obvious concerns reside with LT Nate Solder and RT Marcus Cannon. Solder is having a lot of technique issues but those can be cleaned up. He’s letting rushers get into his chest, which negates his length advantage. Solder needs to strike the proper balance between extending his arms and not getting off balance. I don't understand why he's not getting back into a proper stance. Solder's trying to maul the rusher instead of directing him with his length. He can still get there, but if anybody was expecting to him to be a Pro Bowl LT this year, they were kidding themselves. There were bound to be growing pains. Solder wasn't exactly a complete stud last year -- and that was at the much easier RT. Getting Logan Mankins back next to him [helps] as well. And when the Patriots have a real RT in Sebastian Vollmer, that will allow them to help Solder more (Matt Light got a lot of help himself). And, oh, by the way, Brian Waters still has a locker in the Patriots' facilities.

And Bedard's right, thank God he is bringing some sense to all of this. The Solder problems are fixable, and while we can't expect Solder to become a star this year, we have hopes that he at least won't be as miserable as he's looked this preseason. Thankfully the Pats have one of the best offensive line coaches in Dante Scarnecchia that can hopefully help Solder figure things out.

The Patriots will also get the interior of their offensive line back, which should help significantly. The best news on the Marcus Cannon front? Sebastian Vollmer is coming back. We just have to hope he can stay healthy.