BOSTON (CBS) – Through three games Tom Brady has been sacked seven times, and is on pace to hit the dirt 38 times if he can survive the brutal 16-game slate.
Those 38 sacks would be an improvement from last year, when the barely younger Brady was taken to the ground with the ball in his hand behind the line of scrimmage 40 times, the second highest mark of his career.
The offensive line has taken a lot of blame thus far for the offensive struggles, and rightly so. That unit in particular lost a trusted coach in Dante Scarnecchia to retirement in the offseason, who served with the Patriots long before Bill Belichick, and even Bill Parcells came to town.
In May’s draft the Pats took three youngsters on the line which, in hindsight, should have signaled the end was near for left guard Logan Mankins, given his high salary cap number.
One of those youngsters is Bryan Stork, who Belichick drafted out of Florida State in the fourth round.
The 6-4 behemoth was the top center in all of college football in 2013, snapping the ball to Heisman winner Jameis Winston. He started 39 games at either center or guard for the Seminoles over his four-year collegiate career, and would likely already be contributing to the 2014 New England offensive line if not for an injury in training camp that left him sidelined for a few weeks.
It may be time to #ReleaseTheStork.
“They are not talented in the middle at all,” said Zolak to lead the discussion. “But I pause because I have not seen Ryan Wendell at full go with Bryan Stork next to him [at center] and Dan Connolly in the middle. Find a way to play somebody else at guard other than what’s been there. Right now it’s a talent issue. This isn’t coaching. If you can’t bend at the hips, or it looks like you’ve never been laid, you’ve got no hope. Give me guys that want to be tenacious in the middle. Give me guys that want to go out and block people.”
Zolak would like to see Stork at center, and both Wendell and Connolly at guard. However, Gresh doesn’t think Wendell is fit to play guard. Zo doesn’t care what the combination is, or what position Stork ends up playing, he just wants the current starting five shaken up.
“When’s the last time that a guy who won the Rimington Award (best college center) was asked to switch positions in the pros?” Zo asked in reference to Bryan Stork. “It’d be different if he was a first round pick, so it may not be that crazy to think Bryan Stork can slide over [to guard]. Maybe he’s the answer.”
“[Stork] played a little bit in college as a guard, but he really cut his teeth as a center. That’s what they drafted him for. We haven’t seen the Patriots exhaust all their options yet,” said Gresh.
“I’ve seen enough of Jordan Devey. He can’t play,” Zo added.
Zolak also wouldn’t rule out signing free agent Richie Incognito “if Brady is still getting his ass kicked” the next two games.