BOSTON (CBS) — In many ways, the play of the Patriots’ offensive line was the team’s undoing in 2015. Though it’s not quite as simple as counting sacks, it’s hard to ignore that the Patriots won the Super Bowl when Tom Brady took 21 sacks in 2014. When he took 38 sacks in 2015 — and another four in the AFC Championship Game in Denver — the team fell short of its ultimate goal.
To help combat that issue and to help keep Brady upright, the team rehired legendary offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia this offseason. And Logan Mankins — a retired lineman and a Patriots legend himself — thinks the coach is going to make a noticeable difference.
“Those young guys have a rude awakening coming,” Mankins told Mark Daniels of The Providence Journal. “They have never had anyone like him. They better be in shape, because he’s going to test you.”
Former Patriots left tackle Matt Light said the same thing: “Those young guys, they have no idea what they’re in for. They’re going to figure it out real quick.”
Whether it was fitness or skill that was deficient on the O-line in 2015 can be debated, but the results spoke for themselves. Yet with Nate Solder returning, Sebastian Vollmer going back to his normal spot, and with a number of young and talented interior linemen, there’s reason to believe Scarnecchia can indeed get that line back to where it needs to be.
“It’s hard to say you have an instant upgrade unless you go out and get a big free agent signing,” Light told Daniels. “[But] I think this is as sure of a bet that you can ever make.”