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2012 OL: Brian Waters' decision is the key
By: John Morgan
While most of the discussion regarding the offensive line has centered on what the Pats may do regarding free agents Dan Connolly and Dan Koppen, the key is Brian Waters return. Waters - the team's best offensive lineman in 2011 - has stated that he will ...
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Not one of John's better articles. He needs to proof-read so silly errors like this:
which shows that the Pats average 4.7 yards per carry when running to the right, compared to 4.3 yards per attempt when running to the right.
Don't show up.
As for Nick McDonald, the Pats thought enough of him to NOT cut him after both Wendell and Connolly were healthy and despite having Donald Thomas and Marcus Cannon healthy as well. The Pats carried 10 O-linemen for half the season. That's surprising considering they usually stick with 9.
Only 3 of the 5 O-line spots are settled right now. LT, LG, and RT. It's up in the air what's going to happen at Center since Connolly and Koppen are UFA and Wendell is an RFA. As mentioned, RG is up in the air because of Waters. That being said, I have confidence that Cannon could step in and be effective (better than Connolly, worse than Waters).
I think this is one thing the 'a deep threat is the Pats number one priority' crowd is overlooking. Waters played as well as anybody for the Patriots last year. If he does not return it is almost automatic that whoever his replacement is, he will not be as effective in either pass protection or in run blocking. I think the Pats can live with losing one of either Koppen or Connolly (if I had to choose one I would prefer the younger and more versatile Connolly myself), but losing two (or all three) of those offensive linemen would be very difficult to overcome.
As the column points out, injuries are inevitable and you not only need top end talent, you also need quality depth. Without that a deep threat is a moot point; Brady will be sacked before that shiny new toy has a chance to run his route.
Not much chatter about these guys but if either of these guys retires (Waters) or gets signed somewhere else (Connolly) the offseason goes in a completely different direction.
Instead of beefing up WR and defense the interior OL becomes a huge priority.
Personally I would feel a lot better as free agency sets in if I hear that Connolly and the Patroits have reached an agreement and Waters is returning.
Edit: Add BJGE into the mix, love his style.
I agree, I would think Waters would like to take another shot at a ring, he seemed to like the locker room here and could finish his great career on a high note after playing with teams with no shot much of his career.
I see us drafting a center in any event a decision needs to be made to try to sign either Koppen or Connolly.
Of course we would like to see Connolly and Waters back.
"Some guys play in all-star games, some guys don't. I don't know who picks all those all-star teams. In all honesty, I don't know who picks the combine, for that matter," Belichick said. "How does (Miami-Ohio offensive lineman Brandon) Brooks not get invited to the combine? How did Vollmer not get invited to the combine? I don't know. We can't really worry about that. We just have to try to evaluate them the best we can."