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Four games into this season, the New England Patriots' offensive line was ranked 5th by profootball focus. They had allowed seven sacks and Tom Brady fumbled twice over those four games. Since that time, the Patriots' o-line has given up four sacks... to the Cincinnati Bengals, five sacks to the New Orleans Saints, and four sacks the the New York Jets. Brady has fumbled a total of three times in three games as well. The Jets played the Patriots earlier in the season and the Patriots only gave up one sack, so it is not like the Jets were just doing their usual damage. They played above and beyond their normal pay-grade this time around.


This could be a consequence of the Ryan brothers just knowing how to disguise blitzes, because they have always been good at that, and they have been a problem for the Patriots in the past; however, the Patriots have now given up 20 sacks on the year. This ranks them in the top ten for most sacks given up, albeit some teams have not had a chance to catch up due to not playing yet today, but before the game, the patriots ranked 14th most, so still not very good. In the past three games, the Patriots have given up more sacks than the Jacksonville Jaguars (4th most sacks given up all year going into this week), Miami Dolphins (3rd most sacks given up going into this week), and unless the Cleveland Browns give up ten sacks today, the Patriots will have given up more sacks than them - who rank second going into this week, according to nfl.com.

That is three out of the top four worst offensive lines in terms of number of sacks that the Pats have topped in the past three weeks. This number is of course, a little volatile and noisy due to the fact that Brady dropped back more than Weeden, Henne/Gabbert, and Tannehill. Although not by much to Tannehill, and Henne dropped back over 40 times today and was only sacked twice. You may say that the Patriots o-line has done that because they have faced pass rush defenses who are ranked in the top ten, but each of those teams sacked Brady for more than their weekly average when they played the Patriots. The Jets have played seven games and have 24 sacks, they sacked Brady four times, just a little bit over the weekly average. The Saints played six games, have 20 sacks, and sacked Brady five times, a significant amount over their weekly average, and the Bengals sacked Brady four times, when they only had 18 total over six games, also well over the weekly average. Brady is throwing about the same amount of attempts in these games as well, so it is not that the defense has had a lot more chances than usual, either.

I am not presenting these statistics as a way to convince everyone that the offensive line is the worst part of this offense simply based on how many sacks they give up, because that would extremely simplify this issue. The Patriots ground game needs to pick up, Brady and the wide receivers need to link up quicker after the snap so the can have fewer coverage sacks on Brady, and the offensive line needs to protect Brady better than they have in the past three weeks. They are still a strong point of the offense, but their play has not been nearly has good as it was the first quarter of the season. There are still greater problems than the offensive line not playing up to their usual brilliant level - injuries to the defense and offense alike are among those, but it is simply a fact that the Patriots offensive line has been better than they have over the past three weeks.

Sam Reilly 10/20/2013 05:35:00 PM Edit
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