The New England Patriots had one of the best offensive lines in the NFL in 2016. One of the reasons why was because of their coach.
One of the most important things for the New England Patriots is to provide Tom Brady with excellent protection. If there is a formula to defeat the Patriots, it usually starts with getting pressure on Brady.
When Brady gets knocked around a bit, he does have the tenacity to get jumpy in the pocket. Most recently, the Patriots struggled to block the talented pass-rushers of the Denver Broncos in 2015.
Being unable to properly protect Brady resulted in the Patriots losing to the Broncos in the 2015 AFC Championship Game. Coming into 2016, the Patriots’ offensive line was certainly a question mark. However, it turned into one of their greatest strengths.
Recently, former Patriots left tackle Sebastian Vollmer spoke to why the Patriots’ offensive line improved in 2016. Here’s what he had to say to Mike Reiss of ESPN.com.
"“One of the greatest who ever coached,” Vollmer said of Scarnecchia, who is affectionately referred to as “Scar” in New England. “I don’t want to take any credit away from the players, but you really have to credit the coaching job they do. You take a Joe Schmo like me and make him a serviceable player; they do this over and over again, and it’s amazing to watch.”"
One of the main reasons for the success of the offensive line was because of the drastic improvement by right tackle Marcus Cannon. After a really poor 2015 season, Cannon turned out to be one of the best tackles in the NFL last season.
With Nate Solder performing well on Brady’s blindside, the Patriots were able to limit the pressure caused by pass-rushers on the outside. If the Patriots’ offensive line did have a weakness, it was up the middle. When talented pass-rushers moved inside, they did have a bit more success bothering Brady opposed to trying to get around the edge.
Overall, the Patriots’ offensive line was a much-improved unit in 2016. While players will receive credit for improving, offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia deserves a lot of credit as well. Considering that the Patriots rarely invest much in their offensive, the value of Scarnecchia to develop mid-to-late round draft picks can’t be understated.