clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Patriots offensive line has been a top 10 unit in 2016

The Patriots owe a lot of their success to a revitalized offensive line.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Pro Football Focus did not appreciate the New England Patriots offensive line in 2015, ranking the group 25th in the entire NFL.

“The good news is that, where they struggle (pass protection), they have a quarterback good enough to overcome it,” PFF wrote at the end of the 2015 season. “But it was still so bad that you wonder how much easier (and better) life for Tom Brady could have been with better protection.”

Every single Patriots offensive lineman rated below average, with four of the five starters considered below-replacement level. OG Josh Kline and C Bryan Stork were the best players on the line, but they were both cut prior to the start of the 2016 season.

New England hoped the return of offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia would fix the unit and moved forward with almost the three worst players on the line in 2015.

It’s been working, as far as PFF is concerned.

According to PFF analyst Gordon McGuinness, Patriots RT Marcus Cannon has been the best right tackle in the NFL and LT Nate Solder has been the 5th best overall tackle.

“Since Week 7, [Cannon] hasn’t allowed a sack, and has just one hit and 11 hurries allowed,” per PFF analyst Nathan Jahnke. “He also hasn’t allowed a single pressure in two of his past four games. The only game this season he’s allowed more than three pressures was Week 2 against Miami. Cannon hopes to have a better outing against Cameron Wake and the rest of the Dolphins this time around.”

Cannon and Solder form the 4th best offensive tackle duo in the NFL, after Tennessee, Washington, and Green Bay. Cannon is ranked 2nd for right tackles and Solder ranks 7th for left tackles.

The Patriots offensive line ranks inside the top 10 in the NFL right now, by both PFF and Football Outsider rankings, with rookie LG Joe Thuney receiving the lowest grade of the starters by a considerable amount. If Thuney received the same grade as Kline, the Patriots line would rank around the top five in the league.

Solder is a free agent after the 2017 season, which means that this group of players will only be better in the coming year- and we’re currently finding out how much easier life can be for Brady behind a competent offensive line.