The New England offensive line has done a fine job all season, but their work is cut out for them on Sunday with Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa coming to town.
Tom Brady is many, many things… but a mobile quarterback isn’t one of them.
Sure, he’s pretty nifty moving his feet around within the pocket when he needs to be; he’s been playing football long enough to sense when and where pressure may suddenly appear. What he can’t do though is completely break free from the pocket, take off, and run… a la the other two QBs playing in Saturday’s AFC matchup (Patrick Mahomes and Andrew Luck).
That’s why it’s absolutely imperative that the offensive line plays a strong game against a dangerous Chargers defensive front. Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa represent potentially the two best pass rushers Brady and the offense will face all season – just ask Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, who was terrorized by both of them last weekend (Ingram in particular).
Brady has thrown more balls into the turf this year than ever before when he faces pressure in his face. Ever since the New York Giants won a pair of Super Bowl victories against him, popular belief has stated the best way to beat the Patriots is by driving interior pressure toward Brady like a spear – usually with powerful nose tackles that can collapse the pocket from the inside.
He’s better at evading rushers from his flanks, though he hasn’t seen many players of Ingram’s or Bosa’s caliber on the outside this year.
On paper, the Patriots’ offensive line looks up for the challenge. ProFootballFocus rated them the No. 4 unit in the league this season, which should stir up some confidence for Brady and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels heading into Sunday. If they can hold Ingram, Bosa, and the rest of the Chargers’ front at bay for 60 minutes, the Patriots have an excellent chance of moving on to the next round.