Whether the false reports of the Patriots releasing center Bryan Stork or the actual news of his trade to the Washington Redskins shocked you or not, one thing became clear: David Andrews is going to be the starting center.
After an impressive rookie campaign in 2014, Stork was a key plug-in player who stuck in a revolving door of offensive linemen. Though, his health and temperament brought his days to an end in Foxborough. It’s easy to give credit to Stork for the offensive line’s success in 2014 after the slaughter at Arrowhead Stadium that September. But, it was really veteran Ryan Wendell who was the key cog who brought the OL together. This isn’t meant to discredit Stork, but it was the first sign that he may not last in New England.
Stork struggled with concussions and a nagging shoulder injury throughout his career. Then he let his anger overpower his talent. After a fight with the Chicago Bears during training camp and his history of throwing an occasional punch or extending a shove, the Patriots decided it wasn’t worth trying to harness Stork’s fire any longer. Stork punched his ticket out of town and handed the starting nod to David Andrews.
Stork is absolutely the more talented player between he and Andrews. But, Andrews offers the Patriots something that they have lacked with Stork—consistency.
Stork had moments of Pro Bowl-caliber play only to follow them up with a mistake. It’s part of life in the NFL as an offensive lineman, but enough was enough. Andrews has a likable approach to the game and has always been a leader from his days at Georgia. When Stork was injured, Andrews played with consistency. Andrews keeps improving as evident by his off-season team awards and the fact that he is healthy and doesn’t miss practice time.
The initial reaction to the Stork news is that no one is capable of backing up Andrews at center. But, that is not the case. The Patriots still have an abundance of interior linemen, which hasn’t been the case in previous seasons. Guards Josh Kline and Ted Karras can play center in a pinch or longer if necessary. While Joe Thuney is the left guard of the future, he is a Swiss Army knife on the OL. Thuney could slide in as a center, too.
So between Andrews, Kline, Thuney and Karras (if he makes the team), Stork was expendable and isn’t a big loss. In fact, cutting ties with Stork gives some more clarity to the rest of the OL.
Shaq Mason and Jonathan Cooper are more solidly in as guards. With Sebastian Vollmer reportedly heading to injured reserve, Marcus Cannon and LaAdrian Waddle remain the support at right tackle. There’s an extra spot open with Stork’s departure. Maybe Cameron Fleming or Karras slide onto the roster.
Ultimately, Stork’s departure shows the Patriots have direction and consistency in the middle of the OL with Andrews. But, they also have added flexibility with jack-of-all-trade linemen who can move around at either guard or tackle position on either side of the line.
Dante Scarnecchia still has a lot of work to do to pull together this OL into a cohesive unit. But, cutting ties with Stork and focusing on consistent and versatile is a start toward building an OL capable of working together to win a Super Bowl.
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: Bryan Stork David Andrews Joe Thuney Josh Kline