In a stark turnaround from 2008, when the Patriots gave up 48 sacks to Matt Cassel, our 2009 O-Line yielded only 18 sacks, the best in franchise history. With our entire O-Line returning next year, and with the youth of Sebastian Vollmer added to the line, expect similar results. Stephen Neal returns as one of the best run blocking guards in the league, Logan Mankins (who should have a new contract) is one of the best overall guards in the game. Matt Light and Nick Kaczur are weak links at the tackle positions, but expect Vollmer to step in and for another tackler to be selected and groomed to take over towards the end of the season.
Center Dan Koppen is ready to step up his game not only as a player, but as a team leader.
"I think [leadership] is good but it could be better," Koppen said. "I think everybody needs to do their part. Really that starts with just doing your job and coming in and working out hard everyday. People like myself, that haven't been as vocal in the past, maybe I need to step up and be a little more vocal. We've got a few other guys that are ready to take those roles and I think we'll see that develop in the offseason."
With players all around the team trying to step up as leaders, I'm expecting a well oiled machine to be on the field as every player works well with the others. Randy Moss and Wes Welker need to teach the young receivers. Koppen needs to get the line working as a unit. Tom Brady needs to be a team general. Fred Taylor needs to mentor the young backs on the team. Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo have taken the leadership roles on the defense and hopefully, Leigh Bodden and Brandon Meriweather step up and assume some leadership role of their own.
It appears as if the leadership has bitten the whole team, including Koppen. After a record season, I hope Koppen can lead the O-Line to another great year.