2) New England Patriots
When you look at the New England Patriots, its hard to ignore the gaping hole that was left by Tom Brady when he signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. One of the keys to his success was the ability to stay healthy because of a strong offensive line. In 2018, Brady was sacked only 21 times and hit twice on 596 drop backs. He has not missed a regular season start due to injury since he tore his ACL in the 2008 season opener. The formula was simple. Don’t get hit and get rid of the ball quickly into the hands of your playmakers. Not difficult to comprehend.
In 2019, the Patriot’s offensive line under performed by their own high standards. But they were not as bad as everyone thought they were. With the GOAT gone, there is understandably more pressure for the big guys up front to perform. There is one other departure that will have an effect and that is the retirement of long time assistant coach Dante Scarnecchia who spent 36 of his 38 years in the league with New England. Most of those as the team’s offensive line coach. But it’s the returning starters that can have the biggest impact next season.
One of the key decisions that had to be made during the offseason was to decide on the fate of left guard Joe Thuney. He was the best offensive lineman for the Patriots and his 2.5% pressure rate over 250 snaps can back that up. So New England placed the franchise tag on him and will earn $14.78 million in 2020. With Isaiah Wynn and David Andrews coming back fully healthy, this unit can improve on their strong finish in 2019. It is a lot more important without number 12 under centre and Scarnecchia in charge.