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MORSE: Patriots Roster Analysis – Offensive Line

Mark Morse
Mark Morse on Twitter
January 26, 2023 at 6:30 am ET

MORSE: Patriots Roster Analysis – Offensive Line(PHOTO: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

🕑 Read Time: 7 minutes

This is the second article analyzing the team’s performance and the future of the personnel.  The Offensive Line will come into focus in this piece.

The Offensive Line was truly offensive.  Right from the start of camp, it was apparent they were not getting the new blocking scheme.   Part of the new offense was running the stretch runs that the Shanahan offense utilizes.  That takes special personnel that can execute those moves.  It also requires someone that has intricate knowledge of executing those plays.  The Patriots’ Offensive coaches (Patricia and Judge) failed to teach this.  Patricia in particular was at fault for spending too much time with Mac Jones and ignoring the Offensive Line.  Patricia was supposed to be the O-line coach and yet those duties often fell to the inexperienced Billy Yates (3rd-year assistant coach).   I was also dismayed by the number of non-play penalties assessed to the Patriot’s O-line.  Isaiah Wynn and Trent Brown were guilty of motion penalties too many times.

Trent Brown

He was a shell of the player we thought he could be.  He has had one good season in the last four years and that was when Dante Scarnecchia could motivate him.  He scoffed at Billy Yates trying to tell him what to do.  Brown is lazy and that attitude showed up on the field.   According to Pro Football Focus, Brown was ranked 47th of 79 Tackles.  His 67.4 rating was the third worse of his career after having a 74.4 rating (the best of his career) last season.  It’s time for the Patriots to cut bait with him and send him and his $11M contract to the curb.

Isaiah Wynn

How bad was Wynn?  His PFF rating dropped from 82.6 to 54.6 in 2 years.  He had the most penalties of any offensive lineman in the league.  For Right Tackles, he was 75th of 84.  He looked as if he just didn’t want to be out there anymore.  I can’t believe the Patriots exercised his 5th-year option guaranteeing him $11M for 2022.  He had his money and he didn’t care.  The Patriots eventually benched him after injuries forced him to IR.   The lack of concentration was evident all year by the number of dead ball motion infractions.  Between him and Brown, the Patriot’s Offense was put in untenable situations with their penalties.  Wynn is a Free Agent, good riddance.

Yodny Cajuste

Is a Restricted Free Agent and should be retained at a low salary.  I don’t think anyone is going to sign him.  He played in only 6 games for Isaiah Wynn but was in and out of the lineup due to injuries and illness.  He is only 27 (this February) and should be retained for depth.   The former 3rd round selection should be offered an RFA contract but not at his given round.

Michael Onwenu

Let’s talk about the anchor of the Offensive line for years to come.  The Patriots did the right thing by not moving Owenu to Right Tackle.  They have a potential Pro Bowl guard in Onwenu.  PFF loves him and gave him a 79.3 rating and named him as their 3rd Guard on their All-Pro team.  I must add that Quinn Meinerz was ranked right behind Onwenu with a 77.7 rating.  If the Patriots had only drafted Meinerz, they would have solved their LG problem.  They wouldn’t have had to draft Cole Strange in the 1st round.  I know hindsight! Back to Owenu.  The Patriots recognized they were holding Onwenu back by playing Shaq Mason.  Unfortunately, they gave away Mason in order to dump his salary.  The Tampa Bay Bucs were desperate for OGs as they lost both their starters.  We should have gotten more from them.    Onwenu is the rock the Patriots build their Offensive Line around.

Connor McDermott

McDermott played well down the stretch.  The 6’8”, 305 lb. RT was the 6th round selection by the Patriots in 2017.  He was a late cut by the Patriots because they were loaded at Tackle.   The Patriots had Nate Solder, Marcus Cannon, Cameron Fleming, and LaAdrian Waddle.  McDermott was beaten for a roster spot by Cole Croston an Undrafted Free Agent that played at Iowa.  Croston was chosen because he could play both G and T.  McDermott was immediately claimed by Buffalo and spent two years as a backup.  When the Bills released him in October of 2019, the Jets claimed him immediately.  McDermott signed a one-year extension with the Jets in 2020, was released, and signed to their Practice Squad.  The Patriots, desperate for tackle help signed him off the Jets Practice Squad on November 22nd.  He started the next Sunday and finished the season at RT.   PFF graded McDermott 65.8, the 49th of 84 RTs.  However, his Run Blocking grade was 79.8, the 9th best in the league for RTs.  His Pass blocking was the issue and his 53.7 grade reflected that.  Can a new O-line coach work with McDermott on his Pass Blocking?  He is currently a Free Agent.  After doing the research on McDermott, he just might be worth re-signing, especially after reading more about McGlinchey.

Marcus Cannon

Cannon tried to give the Patriots some help after he was released by Houston,  but he had nothing left in the tank.  He was injured and ended up on IR for the rest of the season.  He is a Free Agent that won’t be back.

Cole Strange                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Fair or Unfair, Strange was selected in the 1st round and didn’t perform like a 1st round pick.  He struggled, especially when Andrews was out of the lineup.  His run grade was 48.3. 67th of 76.  However, his pass-blocking rating was 67.8, 34th of 74 which is encouraging.  In his last two games, he didn’t give up a sack and only gave up one pressure.  Cole Strange was thrown into the pool and told to sink or swim.  He struggled.  He doesn’t have NFL size or strength.  He needs to add weight to his frame.  He has the lateral quickness to be a good guard in the league and didn’t get the benefit of sitting and learning while getting stronger.  I look forward to seeing what progress he can make under a real O-Line coach.

David Andrews

He is a Captain and a prominent leader.  Although undersized, he is a scrapper and gives it his everything out there.  Getting up in age now as he will turn 31 before the season starts.  Entering his 9th season as a former Undrafted Free Agent, Andrews is everything you want in a player.  Tough, dogged, a leader by example, and smart, although not physically gifted he makes the best of what he has.  He makes everyone around him better.  Time is catching up and he is getting nicked up more and more, missing time.  The Patriots do not have a true backup center.  It’s time for the Patriots to select a Center in the draft that can eventually replace Andrews.

James Ferentz

I can’t believe we can’t find anyone better than Ferentz.  His dad is one of Belichick’s buddies from his coaching tree.  But Ferentz gives them that unassuming steady and unspectacular play of a reserve.  He will probably not be invited to camp but will be a phone call away if needed.  He is 33 now and will be 34 in the season, that’s old for a lineman.  Ferentz is only 6’2 and barely weighs 300 pounds.

Kody Russey, Chase Hines, Andrew Steuber

Incomplete   Russey was an emergency activation to the roster due to injuries.  Hines and Seuber got Red Shirt years.

Hayden Howerton 

Was signed mid-year to the Practice Squad.   The SMU product is 6’3”, 300 lbs, and came out as a Center but is listed as an OG on the roster.  He signed a Futures contract and will be in camp.

Bill Murray

Converted from DT to OL this year and spent the year on the Practice Squad, getting elevated for one game.  Murray is listed as 6’4’ but only 265 lbs. Could he possibly lose a few more pounds and become a FB as James Devlin did?  Devlin was a DT at Brown.  Murray was listed at 300 pounds for the draft in 2020 draft.  Murray signed a futures contract on Monday.

Patriots Bring Back Bill O’Brien

Great news that Bill O’Brien has been signed as the Offensive Coordinator.  He provides immediate respect as a former OC and Head Coach.  O’Brien knows what he wants to do and his fiery spirit will bring out the best in the players, or else they will be looking for new employment.  He will demand discipline from the players, or they will be looking for new employment.  I am assuming that Jerod Mayo will be kicked up to Associate Head Coach, the next step to being Bill Belichick’s replacement.  The Offensive Coordinator signing is the 1st step in the coaching upgrade.  Looking for an O-line coach to be next.  The Patriots have been reported to have interviewed Adrian Klemm for the O-line position.  He interviewed for the Offensive Coordinator position last week.  Klemm, a former Patriots 1st round draft selection, was Bill Belichicks 1st draft pick as Head Coach of the Patriots.  Reports also have the Patriots interested in Saints Offensive Line coach Doug Marrone.  The former Buffalo and Jacksonville Head Coach is a close friend of O’Brien.

Get a real O-line coach

Great 1st step in the signing of Bill O’Brien as Offensive Coordinator.  Now let’s get an O-line coach.  Former Patriot 1st-round selection  Adrian Klemm has taken a second interview for the O Line coach position.  O’Brien has been linked to other Oline coaches like Doug Marrone, presently the New Orleans Saints O-line coach.  He is also the former Head Coach in Buffalo and Jacksonville.  I don’t know what his contract status is in New Orleans.  Obrien and Marrone were together in Alabama in 2021.

Compensatory Picks

The Patriots are expected to receive three compensatory selections in the 2023 Draft.    This is according to the Over The Cap’s Nick Korte’s  Projecting the 2023 Compensatory Picks. That would bring their total to 11.

Bill Murray re-signs with the Patriots

The Practice Squad OG signed a Futures contract with the Patriots.  The undersized DT switched to the O-line last season.  He spent the year on the Practice Squad and was elevated for 1 game.  Murray stands 6’3.5” but weighs only 265 lbs.  Could he possibly be a candidate to move to Fullback?  James Develin was a DT at Brown and then converted to Fullback.  That is just 10 lbs more than what Develin played at.

East-West Shrine Game Coaches

It’s more about who is not coaching than who is coaching at the East-West Shrine game.  Matt Patricia and Joe Judge are not coaching as is Nick Caley whose contract expires at the end of the NFL year.  Also defacto Defensive Coordinator Steve Belichick.  I am surprised that he isn’t going as a supervisor.

As for the staff working with the college players in Vegas, Bill Belichick, Mayo and O’Brien will work in supervisory roles. Troy Brown — the Patriots’ receivers/returners coach — will be the head coach. Ross Douglas will be the offensive coordinator and QB coach, Mike Pellegrino is the co-defensive coordinator/defensive line coach, and Brian Belichick is the co-defensive coordinator/linebackers coach.

Cam Achord will be the special teams’ supervisor, while Joe Houston will be the special team coordinator. V’Angelo Bentley will be the cornerback’s coach, Tyler Hughes will be the tight ends coach, Keith Jones will be the assistant defensive line coach along with Joe Kim, Evan Rothstein will be the running backs coach, Vinnie Sunseri will be the wide receivers coach, and Billy Yates will be assistant offensive line coach.

Brown, Douglas, and Achord were thought to have been replaced because of the poor performance of the personnel under their supervision.

ICYMI: Rob Gronkowski Reacts To The Patriots Hiring Bill O’Brien

About Mark Morse

Merrimack Valley native and lifelong fan of the New England Patriots. My earliest memories of the Patriots were attending as a child with my dad, the off-season practice at Phillips Academy. I was at the Patriots game at Harvard Stadium in 1970 where Bob “Harpo” Gladieux was called out of the stands by the stadium announcer over the PA to play in the game. Analyzing the draft since ESPN first started to televise it in 1980 and former writer for the Lowell Sun Newspaper.

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