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Great expectations: Logan Mankins knows fate of offense can rest on shoulders of offensive line

10.23.13 at 5:18 pm ET

FOXBORO — Add Logan Mankins to the list of people concerned about the Patriots’ third-quarter struggles.

Asked about the issues — the Patriots have been outscored 44-9 in the third, and were shutout last Sunday against the Jets on the way to a 30-27 loss — the veteran offensive lineman said it’s a variety of problems.

“I don’€™t know. I think execution right now,” he said after practice on Wednesday. “You look at those plays that third quarter when we came out. Some bad assignments and some guys just not doing a good job, fundamentally, one-on-one plays. It’€™s just a combination of everything and that’€™s really holding us back.”

Mankins said some of the struggles can be traced back to the offensive line.

“Oh yeah, it’€™s not all on us, but there’€™s enough of it on us,” he said. “A perfect example is the other night. Come out in third quarter, sack, sack. A lot of that was on us. Mental assignments. Guys just getting beat. Whenever the line’€™s not playing good, it’€™s hard to score for us.”

It’s been a rough stretch for the New England offensive line — while sacks can be an inexact way to measure protection, it’s clear that the group is having some issues. Brady has been sacked 13 times in the last three games. For a group that prides itself on being one of the stoutest in football, Mankins knows it’s not sustainable.

“The expectations start high in our room,” Mankins said. “We expect a lot out of ourselves, and I think that’€™s why we were disappointed after the game the other night. We thought we played good until the end of the second half there. Third quarter was bad, and then I think we played better in the fourth. But we had that lull right there in the third quarter that hurt us and hurt the team. We can’€™t just play like that.

“There’€™s times when we play really good and there’€™s times when we play really bad,” he said. “Like the other night, the little stretch there was about as bad as you can get. The thing is, everyone in that room wants to be perfect and it’€™s just not going to happen all the time. We’€™re playing against good guys. The frustrating thing is when we do things wrong and that’€™s the reason for our problems. We want to make them earn it and they didn’€™t earn it every play.”

He knows the line will face another challenge this week in the Dolphins.

“It’€™s a big division game,” Mankins said. “We let one get away last week, and now we’€™re facing a team that’€™s very good, especially on their front seven defense. [Their] front four has good defensive linemen. It’€™s going to be tough for our offense again this week.”

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