|Photo Courtesy of David Phillip|
The Patriots are down to their third right tackle. That’s a sentence no one within a 150 mile radius of Foxboro ever wants to hear. Especially when the quarterback that the right tackle in question is charged with protecting is 36 years old and about as fast as the line at the DMV.
But that right tackle happens to be Will Svitek, and in just 2 games this season he has proved himself to be worth every penny the Patriots gave him this offseason. 148 of Svitek’s 152 snaps have come in the Patriot's last 2 games, after the Patriots lost second-string right tackle Marcus Cannon to an ankle injury in their prime time matchup against the Denver Broncos. Since being thrust into a full time roll, Svitek has done everything you could ever hope to expect out of your third tackle, and that is keep Tom Brady alive.
Forget about his effectiveness run blocking. I literally didn’t even look at those numbers. All I care about when I’m down to my third tackle, who had played only 4 snaps all year before Cannon got hurt, is that he keeps Tom Brady alive and kicking. A healthy Brady, in general, means a healthy Patriot's offense.
So just how well has Svitek performed? Well, according to ProFootballFocus.com, Svitek has dropped back into pass protection 90 times thus far and allowed 1 QB hit and 1 QB hurry. For comparisons sake, Marcus Cannon has allowed 1 hit and 6 hurries on 139 passing plays, and Sebastian Vollmer allowed 1 hit and 13 hurries on 296 pass protections.
Now the sample size is small, and I’m sure the Patriots are giving Svitek help by aligning Rob Gronkowski to the right side of the formation or using Brandon Bolden to chip edge rushers out of the backfield. But again, that is to be expected when your all-pro right tackle lands on IR and his top backup goes down soon after.
Svitek has made it through almost 2 full games, and Tom Brady has been hit only ONE time by rushers that Svitek is responsible for. That is a huge win. Especially when last week's opponent, the Houstan Texans, had J.J. Watt, who is perfectly capable of ruining a season with one well-placed blast.
Having dependable players like Svitek on the roster just goes to show the importance of depth to a team’s success. Especially when every player on the field is always one play away from being out for the season. It’s times like these when you can really begin to understand Bill Belichick’s mentality on draft day. Sure fans whine and complain when he trades out of the first round, but so what? Roster building is crucial in this sport. I’d much rather have talented players from spots 1-53, over an extremely talented group from 1-22, with no one to fill in behind them.