Entering the fifth season of his NFL career, David Andrews is a two-time world champion as well as the New England Patriots’ undisputed starting center and one of the team’s leaders — quite the development for the former undrafted rookie free agent. This development happened because of Andrews’ abilities both on and off the field, but the role offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia played cannot be underestimated either.
While Scarnecchia enjoyed his short-lived, two-year retirement when the Patriots brought Andrews in, the veteran coach has helped him grow from being Bryan Stork’s backup to becoming one of the best centers in all of football. Andrews naturally speaks highly of the coach with whom he worked for the past three seasons, and yesterday’s conversations after the Patriots’ seventh practice of this year’s training camp show this.
“It’s such a blessing to get to work with Scar,” said the 27-year-old. “It’s tough. It’s very tough. You’ve got to love this game. You’ve got to love the competition of it and you’ve got to love to come to work every day because it’s not easy at times. That’s how it’s supposed to be. It’s his job to hold us accountable and he kind of sets the tone, and then we hold each other accountable in that room. We take a lot of pride in what we do.”
“But he’s a great coach to work for. It’s been great to work with him these last few years,” continued Andrews. The toughness he mentioned is reflected in Scarnecchia’s offensive line, and something both present and past Patriots seem to appreciate about the veteran coach — former New England right tackle Sebastian Vollmer also recently mentioned the you-get-better-or-you-quit approach players have to take.
One reason why Scarencchia is as impactful a coach as he is is his focus on technique and being fundamentally sound. Andrews pointed this out on Thursday while getting deeper into the coach’s methods of teaching: “He believes in his fundamentals and those key, essential fundamentals. I think we work on those, we buy into those fundamentals. We know that they work and we practice them every day, a lot, and we don’t make up fancy drills.”
“It’s the same drills pretty much every day, so we’re just building repetition, building conditioning and building good habits,” continued Andrews. “Every drill correlates to a fundamental which will correlate to a block. We have different blocks that start with different fundamentals. It’s not every day we just don’t go out there and start running combination blocks. We build up first and the individual fundamentals.”
“Then you put it together and you build and you build and you build. Kind of like building a house: you’ve got to start with a good foundation,” Andrews said. This approach taken by the offensive line coach and its unit helped the Patriots completely rebuild their offensive line over the last few years: while unproven Isaiah Wynn will start at left tackle, the rest of the team’s blockers up front are as steady as they come in the NFL.
The players — Andrews, guards Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason, right tackle Marcus Cannon — deserve plenty of praise for this, but so does Scarnecchia. He is called the best offensive line coach in the league for a reason, and listening to New England’s starting center speak about him it is not hard to see why he might very well be just that.