While the New England Patriots offense is filled with experienced veterans the offensive line is young and very inexperienced. Protection for Pro Bowl quarterback Tom Brady was a question that worried many entering the season but on Sunday the Patriots front line took an important step forward. Their commanding presence against the Buffalo Bills is something that will help them in the future.
During this offseason the Patriots lost two key players on their offensive line. Pro Bowler tackle Matt Light, who had protected Brady’s blindside since his rookie season, announced his retirement shortly after the team’s Super Bowl loss. Soon after losing Light, the Patriots lost Pro Bowl guard Brian Waters who never reported to the team. The Patriots had only two returning starters on the offensive line in Logan Mankins and Sebastian Vollmer.
The Patriots went into Sunday without their four-time Pro Bowler Mankins but the young line did the job. Facing a tough defensive line that included Mario Williams, Mark Anderson, and Kyle Williams, the front line helped the Patriots gain over 500 yards on offense and two running backs gain over 100 yards on the ground. They also kept Brady on his feet for most of the game which has been a worry for the team’s offense.
The Patriots have dealt with several key injuries on offense which includes running back Shane Vereen, wide receiver Julian Edelman, tight end Aaron Hernandez, and offensive linemen Logan Mankins and Dan Connolly. With Brady’s options dwindling, his protection was seen as the offense’s biggest concern. Their performance against a strong defensive line shows that this young group can handle the tough defenses they will face throughout the remainder of the season.
More than proving to others that they can handle the load, Sunday’s performance will give the offensive line confidence moving forward. They now know that even without their biggest stars on offense, they can protect their quarterback and create gaping holes for their running backs. With an offense currently decimated by injury, their success in Buffalo will benefit the Patriots throughout the rest of the season.