The New England Patriots were able to shut down St. Louis Rams star defensive ends Robert Quinn and Chris Long, and the duo was unable to register a sack for the first time this season. That credit goes to offensive tackles Sebastian Vollmer and Nate Solder, who have risen to the occasion time after time this season.
In fact, it can be argued that Vollmer has been the best tackle in the league so far this year. I prefer to settle with dubbing him as the best RT in the NFL in 2012, and that’s a compliment he definitely deserves. He’s healthier than he was last season, and it has showed with the way he has played this season. Vollmer is giving up almost no pressure, and he has been an absolute mauler as far as run blocking goes. Most of the big runs that Stevan Ridley and the backs have been able to reel off have come on the right side.
Nate Solder was viewed as a question mark heading into the season, mainly because of some struggles in pass protection last season and a terrible start to the preseason. Always a good run blocker, Solder has taken his run blocking up another notch in his second-year. He was supposed to be a project, high-upside LT, but he has already learned the ropes and is one of the better tackles in the league. The future is extremely bright for him, especially since he has become a solid pass protector in what has been a huge turnaround for the former star Colorado Buffaloes TE.
Tom Brady gave a ton of credit to both Vollmer and Solder on Dennis and Callahan, and I really love the praise he gave to them. Patriots fans should take note and realize that Vollmer has been the most valuable player on the team this season.
“Phenomenal job on two guys who can rush, who can really do the job, and guys that are really the heart and soul of their defense. Nate and Sebastian have done that all year. I’ve never had to worry about the defensive end or a pass rush. It’s just something I’ve never really had to think about. It seems like we play good ends every week, and they really step up to the challenge. They did a great job.”
I’ve never seen a quarterback have a more comfortable pocket all year than Brady’s pocket against the Rams. That’s impressive, especially considering the elite pass rushing force both of those tackles had to face on Sunday.
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