New England Patriots Bye Week Review: Four Things We’ve Learned Through Week Four

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Aug 28, 2015; Charlotte, NC, USA; New England Patriots center David Andrews (60) calls out the signal to the line during the second quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

With injuries to expected starters Bryan Stork and Ryan Wendell, Josh Kline–a third year pro twice released after being an undrafted free agent in 2013 with five regular season starts–became the veteran of the interior of the offensive line. After the terrible performance of the interior offensive line early in 2013, panic levels were high in New England with Kline and three rookies anchoring the middle of the protection group for Tom Brady.

The Patriots have rotated the guards on the offensive line on each side of undrafted free agent rookie center David Andrews. Andrews is the only offensive player to have played all 228 snaps on offense so far in 2015. The former Georgia blocker has been a revelation at center as he has seamlessly stepped in for second-year center Bryan Stork.

Josh Kline has started and played at both left and right guard while fourth round draft picks Shaquille Mason (left guard) and Tre’ Jackson (right guard) have rotated into the lineup. Jackson is the more skilled pass blocker (having protected Jameis Winston at Florida State) and Mason is a road-grading run blocker (no surprise considering he played in Georgia Tech’s run-heavy triple-option offense).

Sep 20, 2015; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New England Patriots guard Josh Kline (67) and tackle Nate Solder (77) during the second half against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Patriots beat the Bills 40-32. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Tackles Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer have been solid as usual. The surprise at tackle has been the rotating of Marcus Cannon into the lineup as the backup swing tackle has played over 100 snaps on offense through three games.

The long-held belief is that rotating offensive linemen will result in blocking issues as the players need the repetitions for communication and continuity. The Patriots have taken the innovative approach so far in 2015 of liberally rotating players for series and having different alignments of blockers for entire series at a time. Rather than being a negative, the offensive line has been a surprise so far with their ability to keep pressure off quarterback Tom Brady.

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