The New England Patriots offense had quite a few issues during the 2020 season. Not among them, however, was the performance of the team’s offensive line. The unit played some impressive football in Year One after long-time position coach Dante Scarnecchia’s retirement, and was key to the Patriots’ success on the ground (even though it could do little to help with the shortcomings in the passing game).
Unsurprisingly, the unit has therefore now been named one of the best in the NFL this season: according to Pro Football Focus’ year-end rankings, the Patriots’ O-line finished as the fourth best in the league.
PFF’s Ben Linsey had to say the following about the group now coached by Cole Popovich and Carmen Bricillo:
4. New England Patriots
You don’t expect rookie offensive linemen to come into the NFL and play the way Michael Onwenu did for the Patriots, especially rookie guards who were selected in the sixth round and forced into a starting job at tackle.
That didn’t stop Onwenu from slotting in as a top-10 right tackle in the NFL by PFF grade in addition to strong play at both left guard and right guard at various points in the season.
The New England offense didn’t have a whole lot going for it in 2020, but the offensive line is an area that they can count as a strength on that side of the football. It’s a group that could be dealt a big loss in the form of Joe Thuney, however. Thuney ended the season as the sixth-highest-graded left guard in the NFL and will be a free agent this offseason.
While Thuney’s future is very much in question — as is that of fellow free agent and starting center David Andrews — New England has built a solid foundation up front. If one or both of Thuney and Andrews can be retained and if Michael Onwenu continues his development, let alone Isaiah Wynn returns at full strength, the group should again be one of the best on the Patriots’ roster in 2021.