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Patriots’ offensive tackles will have their hands full yet again versus the Giants

Related: Patriots vs Redskins advanced stats: Dont’a Hightower, offensive tackles stand out for different reasons

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Buffalo Bills v New York Giants Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Against the Washington Redskins on Sunday, the New England Patriots’ offensive tackles had their fair share of issues in pass protection. Left tackle Marshall Newhouse, who is filling in for an injured Isaiah Wynn, allowed quarterback Tom Brady to get sacked twice while also giving up one quarterback hit. On the other side of the line, starting right tackle Marcus Cannon was responsible for 1.5 sacks as well as three additional hurries.

The Patriots as a whole surrendered 11 pressures on 46 drop-backs during the game, with 7.5 of them coming from around the edge — a number that disrupted the team’s offensive rhythm for much of the day, especially early on as Brady was sacked three times in the first 20 minutes. Had the veteran quarterback not successfully moved off the spot on multiple occasions, that sack total might have been even higher.

Both Newhouse and Cannon had a day to forget when it comes to pass blocking, and they better do just that quickly considering that the next game will be played tonight: the Patriots welcome the New York Giants to Gillette Stadium for a Thursday night contest. While the Giants are just 2-3 entering today’s game, the team has had some solid stretches of play with the edge rushers in particular standing out.

Just take a look at the following numbers, courtesy of advanced analytics website Pro Football Focus:

Giants pass rush statistics: outside linebackers

Player Total snaps Pass rush snaps Sacks QB Hits Hurries Pressure rate
Player Total snaps Pass rush snaps Sacks QB Hits Hurries Pressure rate
Markus Golden 259 129 6.0 4 6 12.4%
Lorenzo Carter 193 92 1.0 4 6 12.0%
Oshane Ximines 176 89 3.0 0 6 10.1%
Pro Football Focus

Markus Golden, Lorenzo Carter — who is questionable to play because of a neck injury — and Oshane Ximines are the primary edge rushers the Giants use from their 3-4 base front. The three outside linebackers have had some solid success in those rotational roles: all three regularly switch sides to attack either the left or the right tackle, while getting into the backfield with a combination of length, speed and solid technique.

Golden is the biggest name among the three, not just because of his status as a former second-round draft choice that registered 12.5 sacks during his second season with the Arizona Cardinals in 2016. The 28-year-old, who is in his first year with the Giants, is also the team’s most productive pass rusher: his 16 combined quarterback pressures are the most on the team, ahead of Carter and rookie standout defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence.

Having a player like Lawrence — arguably New York’s best defender five games into the season — generally helps the edge rush, as Golden, Carter and Ximines are no strangers to finding themselves in one-on-one matchups on the edge. It would not therefore be a surprise if tonight’s contest was more of the same, and the Patriots better hope that Newhouse and Cannon are up to the challenge after a disappointing game in Washington.

Bill Belichick, however, seems to be well aware of the fact that defensive pressure could create issues for New England’s offense yet again: “Defensively, a lot of pressures,” said Belichick during a press conference earlier this week when discussing the Giants’ defensive approach. “A good mixture of man-to-man, zone coverage, but with some kind of pressure factored in there a lot. So, that’s certainly a problem.”

Needless to say that the Patriots will need to find a way to limit the impact Golden, Ximines and — should he play after already missing last week — Carter can have on the offensive rhythm. One way of doing that, that already worked well last week, was establishing a rushing attack and play-action game: the Patriots moved the football well on the ground against the Redskins’ defense in the second half, and could go back to that well later today.