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Patriots Offensive Line Needs to Improve Communication

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The Patriots offensive line needs to work on its communication and a Redditor shows the reason why.

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

(h/t to /u/GipsySafety)

Homework assignment for today: go read this article about the Patriots offensive line defending against the Raiders stunting defensive line. We can wait for your return.

Seriously, go read it.

It's a great summary of eight times the Raiders used stunts (defensive linemen looping back around one another) to generate pressure on Tom Brady and the passing pocket. The reasoning behind the Raiders attack? The cohesion of the Patriots linemen is not sufficient and it was really easy to confuse them.

The strength of the offensive line is when everyone is on the same page; every player needs to know what the man next to them is doing in order for the greatest success. The current line does not have that ability.

In a straight pass rush, the defensive end faces the tackle, with the defensive tackle facing the guard. In a stunt, the defensive tackle angles towards the offensive tackle, with the defensive end looping behind the defensive tackle towards the inside. The hope is the guard following the defensive tackle, leaving a gap vacant for the defensive end to come through unblocked.

A stunt doesn't have to be just the defensive end and the defensive tackle. The stunt is the act of looping back and around, which means any defensive lineman is capable of stunting.

The Raiders did this. A lot.

Here's an example of an outside stunt, from the article (Watch the right side of the screen):

You can see 94 loop around outside of Nate Solder at left tackle and generate pressure on Brady. The Raiders defensive end lines up wide and issues a false step to Solder's outside leg before breaking inside. Guard Marcus Cannon engages the defensive tackle, with the defensive tackle making a short move to the inside, forcing Cannon to angle away from the defensive end.

Once Cannon is occupied and facing away from the defensive end, the defensive end cuts to Solder's inside leg, forcing Solder to angle also himself inside, taking advantage of Cannon's improper alignment. Once Solder is committed inside, the defensive tackle breaks away from Cannon and loops outside of Solder.

It's a beautiful set up and it's a show of how important communication can be for offensive lineman. Cannon should not have yielded his inside leg in the pocket. Solder bit on the defensive end's outside step. These technical failures leave other linemen exposed. Connolly and Cannon should have been able to handle the defensive tackle without breaking down their gap responsibility; Solder should have been able to count on Cannon on his inside.

The offensive line is currently going through the same growing pains of the defensive backs of 2011. They're giving up their hips too early in the play and committing, allowing the opposition to dictate the flow of the play. Just like when a defensive back turns their hips in coverage of a wide receiver, who can then run a dig or a comeback route away from the coverage, so too can a defensive lineman take advantage of an offensive lineman who has committed its protection too early in a set.

Go read the article. The Patriots have breakdowns in technique and communication. Let's hope they've figured it out over this past week.