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Offensive Line is the Key to 2006

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by AndyJohnson, May 8, 2006.

  1. AndyJohnson

    AndyJohnson PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    We will not lose because of a defense that Bill Belechick had enough confidence in to not add a lot of players to.
    The offense is full of skill position players.

    The key to the 2006 Pats is going to be the OL.
    The will either succeed or fail in:
    1) Protecting Brady. Brady will be great regardless of how much protection he has, but the easier the OL makes it for him, the more the pieces all come together for a Championship season
    2) Allow a controlling running game. If we can run when we want to and control the clock, opportunities open up for Brady with big plays, and the defenses job become easier. The D is going to be good, but if we cant run the ball, they will be under pressure. If we ease the pressure on the D by playing from ahead and controlling filed position and clock, it can be an excellent D.

    I'm pretty confident in the OL, but as clearly as secondary injuries hurt us last year, I think the OL ones were devastating too.
    To me, an OL that takes th enext natural step of development (i.e. Mankins, Kaczur and the depth progressing as expected) and stays healthy equals a very good shot at a Patriot Championship.
  2. oldrover

    oldrover Rookie

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    Where is Light in his rehab? And Koppen, for that matter?
  3. JoeSixPat

    JoeSixPat Rookie

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    I agree wholeheartedly - between the patchwork OL (which generally did a good job protecting Brady) and an injured Dillon our running game had a tough year

    With a healthy Dillon and a healthy line - and a few more receiving threats (as well as 2 TE sets where a TE isn't held in to block) our offense takes on a VERY different look that is gonna give Defensive Coordinators fits!
  4. mavfan2390

    mavfan2390 Rookie

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    Very true, we're now a pick your poison team.

    Brady
    Watson
    Graham
    Branch
    Jackson
    Dillon
    Maroney

    all very capable players (I reserve judgment for Thomas and Mills until later, Jackson, however, I'm sure will be great)
  5. BelichickFan

    BelichickFan B.O. = Fugazi PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #24 Jersey

    I've been considering a similar post, just never got around to it. The OL is the one and only key to the season for me, other than monumentally devastating injuries (read : Brady getting hurt).

    Do we have possible issues with our #2 WR, #4 LB, not having a true stud CB and also safety depending on Harrison ? Sure. But they're all basically small potatoes and can be worked around if needed. With the best QB in the league, a good group of receivers (combining WR and TE) and two RB who complement each other well, I honestly think the Patriots will be almost unbeatable if the OL plays very well.

    Unfortunately, we do have the issues of :

    - Will Light be 100% and at full strength.
    - Will Koppen be 100% and at full strength.
    - Will Neal play better than he did last year.
    - Will our RT play better than last year.
  6. dryheat44

    dryheat44 Rookie

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    #75 Jersey

    I would go on a limb and say the the Offensive Line was the key to 2003, 2004, and 2005, and will be the key in 2007, 2008, 2009, and for however many years Tom Brady is behind center.
  7. bishbash

    bishbash Rookie

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    You risk-taker, dryheat44!!!
  8. patchick

    patchick Moderatrix Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #11 Jersey

    Assuming for the moment that Light, Mankins and Koppen are set and healthy, the right side of the line could get interesting. The only veteran right tackle is Gorin, who isn't even a lock to make the team. Nick Kaczur likely has the inside track thanks to the whopping 14 games of playing time behind him. But consider that Kaczur, like Mankins, was widely projected to guard -- and in fact is listed as "G/T" on the Patriots roster. He's versatile enough to back up 4 positions on the line and could give Neal a challenge for the starting RG spot.

    Meanwhile Wesley Britt and Ryan O'Callaghan look like pure RTs. O'Callaghan is the classic road grader many here have been yearning for: a massive (6'7" 344), nasty, mauling run blocker, probably the best run-blocking RT in the draft. You don't want to ask him to pull, though. Britt is a towering player whose strengths are his pass-blocking skills and intelligence. He's reported to have borderline quickness for the left side but could be a pass-blocking force at RT. Plus he has a year in the system and Colvin's seal of approval.

    Any bets on the game 1 lineup?
  9. braveht

    braveht Rookie

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    There is an inference that Light and Koppen are ok by the fact that we passed on Justice and Eric Winston, 2 high quality OTs as well as OCs.
  10. BelichickFan

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    #24 Jersey

    I would definitely bet on :

    Light-Mankins-Koppen-Neal-Kaczur

    But I agree with what you said about RT, there's 4 guys who I think could be starting there opening day, hopefully it will be a strong competition as opposed to a winner by default.
  11. JR4

    JR4 In the Starting Line-up PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Most Likely .... but

    If O'Callaghan shows he can handle RT and if it's true
    Kaczur can play T or G here's what I'd like:


    Light-Mankins-Koppen-Kaczur-O'Callaghan :)
  12. PATSNUTme

    PATSNUTme Paranoid Homer Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #75 Jersey

    They didn't draft a center or sign one in FA, which tells me that Koppen is OK. They resigned Neal which tells me that the RG position is still his to lose. If Light were not healed properly they would have gone after a LT higher in the draft or brought one in as a FA.

    If they didn't consider Neal a starter, they would have let him go. The only position up for grabs is RT which Kaczur has the inside track.
  13. Mike the Brit

    Mike the Brit Minuteman Target PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I don't agree with this. How do you know that this is not a defense that Bill Belichick saw no significant chance to improve, given the players available when the Patriots were due to pick?


    I agree. They were devastating injuries and the O-Line deserves compliments for hanging together as well as it did.

    The bottom line, for me, is that we will have difficulty if we are not luckier with injuries than we have been recently. I think that we are stretched particularly thin at line-backer and wide receiver.

    In particular, I would be very worried if any of the following were lost: Branch, Wilfork, Bruschi, Vrabel, Wilson (Number 12 goes without saying) and multiple injuries at other positions could be very painful.

    If we aren't too badly hit, I'm very optimistic.
  14. BelichickFan

    BelichickFan B.O. = Fugazi PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #24 Jersey

    I'm with Andy on this one. You're referring to just the draft but he also went the entire FA period with barely a sniff.
  15. Mike the Brit

    Mike the Brit Minuteman Target PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Sure, but who was available whom we could have signed and would have fitted our system?
    Last edited: May 8, 2006
  16. BelichickFan

    BelichickFan B.O. = Fugazi PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #24 Jersey

    I don't know but last year when Bruschi had his stroke we brough in two LB. Admittedly they didn't work out but Belichick brought a couple of guys in. This year - nothing. As I said in my thread over the weekend : 2+2=4.
  17. mgteich

    mgteich PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    We had a starting LT and C last year. I suspect that bb would rather have them than rooks or free agents. I make no inferences with regard to Light and Koppen. If they are not ready, we have two able and ready starters who will start. I believe Tucker is the backup center. Either he or Mruc will make the team if Koppen starts on IR. Personally, I though we might pick up a center. I'm just as happy if dante is fine with what we have, with or without Koppen. This is Koppen's contract year. If bb wasn't OK with Mruc or Tucker, I suspect that we would have drafted a center.

  18. the taildragger

    the taildragger Rookie

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    on paper, you'd think our line was Pro Bowl caliber last year. Tom was among the least sacked QBs in the league, and our passing game was among the best.

    ...but just watching the games it's obvious things have to change or tom's going to get something broken.

    if the guys up front can just stay healthy, and we can get a ground game we're in business. Assuming Kop/Light are good to go (which could be a big leap), we actually have a pretty deep line because the starters and reserves can all play multiple positions.

    IMO, the RBs are the key ingredient in terms of taking pressure off protection and buying time for the pass.

    based on our reactive passing game, every half second we add to our protection could easily represents a 10-30% boost in production (which in turn makes the D exponentially better too).
    Last edited: May 8, 2006
  19. AndyJohnson

    AndyJohnson PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Isnt Hochstein the backup C?
  20. wcda

    wcda Rookie

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    To me it appeared that our offensive line did a good job in pass protection but was terrible in opening holes for our runing backs.
    Last edited: May 8, 2006

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