The Patriots’ suspect offensive line – notably its two beginning tackles – ought to have their palms full on Sunday with Myles Garrett coming to city.
There’s an elemental pressure of nature on its manner east to Gillette Stadium this Sunday afternoon, and its title is Myles Garrett.
The No. 1 total select of Texas A&M two years in the past, Garrett is way and away one of the best participant on this younger Cleveland Browns protection. He’s tied for the league lead in sacks with 9.Zero already this yr – and that’s in simply six video games of motion, too, because the Browns are coming off their bye this week. In different phrases, Garrett – a Professional Bowler final season – is averaging 1.5 sacks per recreation thus far.
That would all spell bother for the Patriots on Sunday when the Browns come to city. Simply because the dominant New England protection (No. 1 in interceptions) should be trying ahead to seeing Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield (No. 1 in interceptions thrown), Garrett might be trying ahead to going through off towards an uncharacteristically-beatable offensive line.
The issues for the Patriots started nicely earlier than the common season arrived when longtime beginning middle David Andrews went on IR with a blood clot present in his lung. The surprising lack of Andrews, coupled with the departure of final yr’s beginning left deal with Trent Brown in free company, had New England scrambling to search out succesful offensive linemen they might plug in and play.
A lot of potential replacements didn’t work out for quite a lot of causes, together with Jared Veldheer, J.J. Dielman, Cole Croston, Caleb Benenoch, Brian Schwenke, and Russell Bodine. New England ending up deciding on a lineup of (from left to proper) Isaiah Wynn, Joe Thuney, Ted Karras, Shaq Mason, and Marcus Cannon for his or her season opener towards the Pittsburgh Steelers.
However within the first few weeks of the common season, each Cannon and Wynn obtained injured in motion. Cannon has since returned, however Wynn stays in restoration from turf toe and on injured reserve, with the hope that he might come again after the Patriots’ bye in Week 10. Mason is now additionally coping with an damage of his personal, and has been restricted in apply with a foul ankle this week, per the team’s official report.
All of those accidents and total uncertainty alongside the road has had a direct affect on the New England offense in 2019. Per Football Outsiders, the Pats’ O-line ranks simply 21st in run-blocking and 11th in go safety. Combining these rankings, the Patriots common out as solely the 16th-best offensive line within the NFL… a distressing truth given the crew’s Tremendous Bowl aspirations this yr.
Therefore the justifiable degree of concern with Garrett arriving in Foxborough this weekend. The third-year defensive finish already has two compelled fumbles and 20 tackles to go together with his 9 sacks this yr, that means he’s nicely on his approach to setting new profession highs in all three classes. Furthermore, he’s gifted and versatile sufficient to line up on both facet of the defensive formation – that means he’s simply as a lot an issue for fill-in left deal with Marshall Newhouse as he’s for Cannon at proper deal with.
Whereas Cannon has drastically improved since his rocky early years with the Pats, he’s nonetheless removed from what anybody would take into account an iron wall on Tom Brady’s proper facet this season. And Newhouse, who has been tasked with defending Brady’s left facet (blindside) till Wynn returns, is surely the weakest hyperlink on the road.
Fortunately, Brady has managed to counteract the subpar play of his offensive line for many of this season by getting the ball out shortly. He additionally has benefitted from taking part in in a scheme that prioritizes the pass-catching talents of his working backs, who he can usually dump off to when underneath duress with out a lot worry of an incompletion or a fumble.
Greater than something although, Brady has been the beneficiary of a quite simple slate of opposing pass-rushes via the primary seven weeks of the season. He’s confronted the Miami Dolphins, the Washington Redskins, and the New York Jets (twice), none of whom are thought-about league leaders relating to getting stress on the quarterback. Of the Patriots’ opponents, solely the Pittsburgh Steelers, Buffalo Payments, and New York Giants (to a lesser extent) rank within the upper-half of NFL defenses relating to speeding the passer.
The Cleveland Browns are proper there with the Steelers, Payments, and Giants as a greater pass-rushing crew, largely due to Garrett’s excellent particular person contributions this season. If the Patriots need to push their undefeated document to 8-Zero this yr, they’ll must discover a approach to decelerate Garrett if they’ll… and all of it begins with Newhouse, Cannon, and the remainder of the New England offensive line rising as much as what could possibly be their stiffest problem of the season.