Through its first four games of the regular season, the New England Patriots’ offensive line was one of the best in the NFL and one of the team’s definitive strengths: it ranked top-10 in blocking win rate both in the running and the passing game. What makes the performances even more impressive is that they were achieved despite some considerable personnel turnover — besides losing long-time coach Dante Scarnecchia during the offseason.
New England also was unable to field the same starting lineup ever over the last two games:
- Week 1: LT Isaiah Wynn — LG Joe Thuney — C David Andrews — RG Shaq Mason — RT Jermaine Eluemunor
- Week 2: LT Isaiah Wynn — LG Joe Thuney — C David Andrews — RG Shaq Mason — RT Jermaine Eluemunor
- Week 3: LT Isaiah Wynn — LG Michael Onwenu — C Joe Thuney — RG Shaq Mason — RT Jermaine Eluemunor
- Week 4: LT Isaiah Wynn — LG Joe Thuney — C James Ferentz — RG Michael Onwenu — RT Justin Herron
The last weeks have taken their toll on the unit, however: David Andrews was placed on injured reserve because of an injury to his snapping hand, while his replacement had to be sent to the Reserve/Covid-19 list after being diagnosed with the Coronavirus on Friday. Meanwhile, the two guard positions and the right tackle spot have also seen some movement — and more could be on the horizon for the unit against the Denver Broncos.
Judged by pregame warmups at Gillette Stadium, the Patriots could field the following starting line today:
- LT Justin Herron — LG Isaiah Wynn — C Joe Thuney — RG Michael Onwenu — RT Jermaine Eluemunor
The most notable change, of course, is on the left side. With Joe Thuney moving to center in place of Ferentz, and with Michael Onwenu staying at right guard to help replace Shaq Mason after he too was sent to Reserve/Covid-19 earlier this weekend, the team might decide to use starting left tackle Isaiah Wynn at guard with rookie Justin Herron taking over the ever important role as quarterback Cam Newton’s blindside protector.
Wynn, who has been fantastic thorough four games, entered the NFL as a “tweener”-type offensive lineman: he had experience playing both tackle and guard from his time at Georgia, and was not built like your prototypical tackle. The Patriots still used him at the position, but he could now get his first career start on the interior of the line.