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Film Review: Shaq Mason, David Andrews, Tre Jackson, and d'Artagnan Kline

The Three Musketeers and d'Artagnan have done a great job protecting Tom Brady.

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Due to injury and retirement, the Patriots Super Bowl offensive line hasn't been available for the 2015 season. Captain and left guard Dan Connolly has retired. Center Bryan Stork is on the short term injured reserve. Right guard and current captain Ryan Wendell has been incapacitated with an illness.

In true New England fashion, the next man stepped up across the board and the offense has been performing. Through three games, all seven active offensive linemen have been greatly involved and the young players have been playing well.

There are three rookies and one veteran to highlight on the interior line, and no one is better at introducing a player than offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo.

"Those cats," Guge said during an open media session about rookies Shaq Mason, Tre Jackson, and David Andrews, "Played in the range of - in the preseason games and practices against our defense and against the Saints - close to 650, 700 snaps. If you think about it now, that's a half of a season of reps that together, playing next to the [Nate] Solders and the [Sebastian] Vollmers and those types of people. [It's] invaluable."

Mason and Jackson moved in together as roommates when they came to New England, after both were selected in the fourth round of the 2015 draft. Andrews is an undrafted free agent out of Georgia.

"The circumstances had them playing a lot so they took advantage of it," Guge continued. "And again, it wasn't always pretty and it's still not pretty when you dissect the film. But there's getting the job done and then there's making it look pretty. I think we're more interested in getting the job done at this point. We're going to work towards making it look right and everything being right."

And Guge is right. It ain't pretty, but there's no question that the Patriots offense is getting the job done.

The Left Guard

Mike Mayock broke down the Patriots offensive line on NFL Network and he was effusive in his praise of the young offensive line.

"This is rare footwork right here, folks," Mayock highlights when Shaq Mason used his quickness to block a stunting Jerry Hughes against the Bills. "When he sinks his hips and gets engaged, it's all over."

Mason comes from a triple option offense in college, which means that he has roughly zero experience in a passing offense, and it shows.

When Shaq wins as a blocker, he sits well in his stance and is able to stone the opposing pass rusher. When he tries to counter a pass rusher with a move of his own, he overextends and can be beaten. He's still a major work in progress in pass protection, but it's clear he's improving in every single game.

As for Shaq's run blocking, teams are already worried about what he brings to the table.

Mason has put the league on notice and has offered utility as a fullback. While he's not the best at opening space up the gut, when he aligns at fullback and the run is to the outside, just by setting up in the backfield at the snap Mason essentially starts halfway through a pull block.

For the rest of the season, Mason needs to work on reading opposing pass rushers so he isn't fooled by their second move in their pass rush. He's already improving on how his upper body reacts with his legs while in protection, and once he understands how to read pass rushers, he'll be even better.

The Right Guard

Tre Jackson was considered more NFL-ready than Mason and was expected to step in as the team's starting right guard. Jackson's actually played the fewest snaps of the four regular interior linemen. While Mason has participated in 20 offensive drives, Jackson has played in 16.

Why is Mason playing more? It's early in their careers, but it isn't too much of a stretch to say that Mason flashes more in his opportunities. While Mason isn't yet a good pass blocker, he's a great run blocker. Jackson seems to be competent at both, but doesn't dominate in any phase.

He can struggle as a pass blocker:

And he is definitely limited in space:

Jackson doesn't have the quickest feet in the open field, so when he hesitates to make a move, the opposing defender will be able to react and beat him to whatever point of attack. It's a limitation that makes the Patriots offense fractionally more limited than if they had the ability to call plays into the open field.

For the rest of the season, Jackson needs to work on improving his foot speed and his willingness to hit a player. Look at how Mason attacks the hole as a pull blocker and then see how Jackson hesitates. Mason clears the lane for the runner, while Jackson ends up clogging the running room. Jackson will have to be more physical if he wants to win a starting job.


David Andrews is the only player on the Patriots to participate in every single snap on any given side of the ball. I do not have any extra GIFs to offer of Andrews beyond what you see above.

Why? Because there's not much more to show.

Andrews is the type of center that could start for fifteen years, never make a Pro Bowl, never win an award, but upon his retirement everyone would say man that guy was awesome. The rookie has been incredibly consistent with his work and he looks to have gotten stronger every single week.

He will not be Nick Mangold stoning prime Vince Wilfork one on one. He might not even be Ryan Wendell as a run blocker, pushing his man five yards into the second level. He is the perfect complementary blocker that can help seal open rushing lanes for backs, or hold off the pass rush just long enough for Tom Brady to get rid of the ball. There isn't a glaring hole in his game, other than inexperience.

Will Andrews hold the job down when Bryan Stork returns from injury? It depends on how much more he grows over the next few weeks. It doesn't feel like the NFL is too much for Andrews and he acts like the player that will stick around. Maybe he won't win on every snap- but he sure as hell will continue to fight.

The Swing Guard

If we're talking about the three rookies as the Three Musketeers, Josh Kline is d'Artagnan. Kline leads the guards with 24 drives and he deserves to be a starter. If Andrews is pretty good at everything at center, Kline is pretty good at everything at guard.

While Mason struggles as a pass blocker, Kline has been pretty consistent regardless of whether he's playing left guard or right guard. While Jackson struggles as a run blocker in space, Kline shows the aggressive nose to make a hit and to open a running lane.

Kline is not Logan Mankins, but he is a step above what Dan Connolly was offering from a swing guard value point. If I'm Bill Belichick constructing an offensive line for the second half of the season, I make sure Kline is in the starting lineup.

Nate Solder, Shaq Mason, Bryan Stork, Josh Kline, Sebastian Vollmer. Voila. You're welcome.


Scrappy Doo

Marcus Cannon took a snap at left guard against the Jaguars while Mason was at fullback.

And because he aligned at left guard, I feel like I can include him in this evaluation.

Sorry, just had to get that out of my system. Cannon is actually a really good pass protector, but it seems like his decision making as a run blocker is questionable at best.