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Patriots offensive tackles ranked sixth worst in the NFL when it comes to pass blocking

New England needs to improve its tackle play, at least when judged by a new ESPN metric.

New England Patriots v Detroit Lions Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

After a slow start to the season, the New England Patriots offense has found its groove as of late: the team scored at least 38 points in four straight games – tying an NFL record – and again looks like one of league’s most powerful attacks. While the addition of Josh Gordon, the return of Julian Edelman, and the growth of Sony Michel all contributed to the improved production, one unit should also not be forgotten: the offensive line.

Dante Scarnecchia’s group played a key role in paving the way for Michel and fellow running back James White and in giving Tom Brady the time to dissect defenses at his usual rate. However, it seems that the latter can still be improved upon – at least at the offensive tackle position: according to ESPN’s new Pass Block Win Rate, the Patriots’ duo of Trent Brown and Marcus Cannon ranks as the sixth worst in the NFL in terms of pass protection.

LT Trent Brown: 81%

RT Marcus Cannon: 68%

Brown, who was acquired via trade on the second day of this year’s draft, performs comparatively well when it comes to pass protection. His success rate lies above the league average of 79% and ranks him as the 14th best left tackle in football when it comes to keeping pass rushers away from his quarterback. The raw stats confirm this: the first-year Patriot gave up only one sack, eight hits, and seven hurries this year.

Cannon, on the other hand, finds himself well above the league average with a win rate of just 68%. The veteran, who missed two games so far this season due to injury, is ranked as the third worst right tackle in terms of pass protection. However, while his win percentage looks far from encouraging, Cannon’s raw numbers – compiled by The Athletic’s Jeff Howe – are actually not that bad: the 30-year old surrendered no sacks, and just four hits and five hurries.

The gist of it all appears to be this: while advanced statistics help better understand the game, the correct contextualization is still important. Cannon obviously has his issues in one-on-one pass blocking situations but he still does enough to regularly keep opposing defenders away from Tom Brady. Would a higher win rate be preferable? Of course, but that does not mean Cannon is not getting the job done as it is.