2012 might be more of an escape act for Patriots QB Tom Brady than he is used to
Tom Brady is under fire this year more than ever.
Despite the lackluster play of his offensive line during the preseason, the Patriots star quarterback will find a way for his team to win.
Why is the Patriots line more depleted than usual?
Former left tackle Matt Light retired during the offseason, ending his very solid 10-year NFL career. Additionally, stud guard Brian Waters has yet to report to the team.
Last year, Waters earned a Pro Bowl selection and was a big reason that Brady was able to lead the Pats to the Super Bowl. He will be sorely missed all season if he doesn't return.
This leaves veteran Logan Mankins as the lone remaining starter on the line at left guard. Joining him are second-year left tackle Nate Solder out of the University of Colorado, right tackle Sebastian Vollmer and right guard Dan Connolly.
During Week 1, the Patriots will take on Tennessee. Despite the collective inexperience and poor performance of the offensive line so far, the Patriots behind Tom Brady will rise to victory.
The line in its current state could get abused by Titans defense men such as DE Kamerion Wimbley and veteran LB Will Witherspoon. Brady will not have as much time as preferred to linger in the pocket, and the passing game could suffer a bit as a result.
However, Bill Belichick will have the Patriots ready for Tennessee. The return of former offensive coordinator Josh McDaniel to his position will also help vault the Pats offense to its typical elite level.
And this year Brady has even more weapons to exploit opposing defenses. New addition WR Brandon Lloyd will help stretch the field for big-play tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski. The Pats will move quickly down the field and are a threat to score from any starting field position.
For this aerial strategy to be fully successful, the offensive line needs to be in sync not only with each other, but also with their quarterback. This takes time, and based on the preseason sample size (10 sacks allowed in four games) doesn't appear to be ready for the opening game of the season.
Luckily, the inexperienced unit has a leader that knows the game as well as anyone around the league. Brady will direct traffic just enough against the Titans that the struggles of the young offensive line unit will not impact the outcome of the game.
In addition to the field general Tom Brady, the coaching staff is as always poised to put its players in the right position at all times. While acknowledging that the O-line performance is a project that will exist throughout 2012-13, Patriots leadership is confident that the current issues can be overcome.
Wes Welker figures to be Brady's go-to target once more despite offseason contract issues. The duo, combined with the surrounding sure-handed talent on the offense, will help keep distance between the Patriots and their opponents.
Against the Tennessee Titans in Week 1, Brady and Co. will enact their game plan regardless of how the O-line holds up.