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NFL New England Patriots

New England Patriots’ Offensive Line Must Step Up In Week 17

Patriots offensive line

Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots‘ offensive line has been inconsistent all season. There are times where the offensive linemen have held their own, and times where they have not. One of those times where the O-linemen failed to play well was in the last matchup against the Buffalo Bills. That needs to change this time around.

Part of the inconsistent performance is due to injury. Right tackle Sebastian Vollmer was placed on injured reserve at the end of October. Before going down, he was considered to be one of the best right tackles in the NFL. Marcus Cannon has since replaced him, and has not been that bad, but definitely not as good as Vollmer.

It is the interior of the offensive line that has killed the Patriots. Center Ryan Wendell and right guard Dan Connolly are not starting-caliber players. Wendell was a nobody until last season, where he miraculously put together a strong campaign. This season, however, he has reverted back to his original status. He cannot pass protect to save his life.

At one time, Connolly was good enough to be a starting offensive guard. Age and injuries have made his play decline, though, and he is now below-average in both pass protection and run blocking. It is a mystery as to why Cannon was not starting over Connolly at right guard, at least when Vollmer was healthy.

Then there is Nate Solder, who is battling a concussion. While Solder’s play has been bad as of late, he has put together a fairly strong campaign overall. Solder’s absence would mean that left guard Logan Mankins would have to move to left tackle, and Josh Kline would enter the fray at left guard. That is not a good solution.

Whoever is healthy on that offensive line must get their games on this week, as three of the front four pass rushers for the Bills have double-digit sacks this season. Plus, these offensive linemen will have to face tough tests as the playoffs draw closer. It just gets tougher from here.

Philip Alexander is a New England Patriots writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @steely0906, “like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.