|With Logan Mankins gone, what now for Patriots offensive line?||08.26.14 at 10:53 pm ET|
FOXBORO — In the space of 10 months, the Patriots have lost their longtime offensive line coach to retirement and their heart-and-soul offensive line captain to NFL economics.
The question now is, what will the Patriots do without Dante Scarnecchia and Logan Mankins? Part of that question has already been answered as new offensive line coach Dave Duglielmo has had a full spring and summer with the players he hopes will keep Tom Brady clean, healthy and upright all season.
But the second part of that equation is a big TBD.
“We have a lot of guys with a lot of good experience, like Dan Connolly and Ryan Wendell and Sebastian Vollmer and there’s a whole list of guys who know what they’re doing. We can definitely get by,” Solder said.
Obviously, the Patriots are looking for much more than just getting by when it comes to keeping No. 12 upright. They’re not looking for the next Pro Bowler per se, but rather someone who will give them consistent play from the left guard position that they’ve gotten for the past nine seasons from Mankins.
And while Connolly and Wendell could be options at left guard, there are other names to consider who could step in immediately. Jordan Devey, Josh Kline and Marcus Cannon. All three have played the interior line at some point in their time in New England, with Devey and Kline getting the most reps during games while Cannon has played primarily tackle, filling in at right tackle last season when Sebastian Vollmer went down with a season-ending broken leg.
Then, late in the season, against the Ravens in Baltimore, Belichick provided some possible foreshadowing of life without Mankins at left guard. With Solder out with a concussion, the team shifted Mankins to left tackle. It was the 24-year-old Kline who filled in for Mankins at left guard, making his first career NFL start.
Whoever gets the call at left guard, Solder is completely confident that he can help lead the new group into the 2014 season.
“A ton of confidence,” Solder said. “Those guys work so hard and they’re awesome people. I have a ton of confidence. That’s why they’re here. The way I kind of view leadership is to do my job the best that I can. If that influences people, I hope it does, but that’s kind of the role I see myself in.”
|Experience on Patriots offensive line making transition to Dave DeGuglielmo era easier||08.11.14 at 6:50 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The Patriots took a major hit following last season when offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia retired after spending 32 seasons in the NFL, 30 of which coming with the Patriots. The organization brought in veteran offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo to replace Scarnecchia, but with the number of returning members of the offensive line, the transition has been made much easier.
New England returned its entire starting offensive line from the past two seasons, as well as backup Marcus Cannon, so the system Scarnecchia put into place has not been altered much.
“It’s not completely different,” said nine-year veteran Logan Mankins. “There are a lot of things that are the same, but there is some stuff that is different. Guys like myself that have done it for so long, it takes a little while to train your body to do it a different way.
“But we’re working on it, and a lot of guys are getting it.”
All nine of Mankins’ seasons in the NFL have been with the Patriots, and teaming up with other offensive line starters Dan Connolly (six seasons in New England), Ryan Wendell (five), Sebastian Vollmer (five), Nate Solder (three) and Cannon (three), the unit has a combined 31 years playing for Scarnecchia.
With the success of the Patriots offensive lines in the past, DeGuglielmo — a Lexington, Mass. native — knew coming in he wouldn’t change much of what was already put into place.
“The system is in place. It’s not like we’re reinventing anything here. I’m trying to teach the system,” DeGuglielmo said back on the second day of training camp. “I might use different coaching phrases, but it’s the same stuff. It’s the same technique, generally the same offense. I’m not changing anything, that’s for sure.”
After 14 practices and one preseason game, the grouping is still getting used to their new coach, but things are steadily moving in the right direction.
“Thankfully, [DeGuglielmo] is a good guy, and I think he cares about winning and cares about the team so it always makes it easier,” Mankins said.
With roughly three weeks before the season-opener in Miami and three more preseason games remaining, it’s still a work in progress. But the grouping finds themselves in much better shape than some other teams could be in if put in the same position.
Having 31 combined years of experience learning from one of the best offensive line coaches in the league and a new coach willing to build on what was already built, the group is in as good of shape as they can be at this point in training camp.
“I think so. He has done a good job of making everything clear on how he wants stuff,” Mankins said. “We are trying to satisfy that. It’s not always perfect right now – it hardly ever is – [but] we’re making strides in the right direction, I think. I know we’re trying to do it the way he wants — hopefully he sees how hard we’re working.”
|Mike Petraglia, Chris Price dish on Dante Scarnecchia, Brandon Spikes, protecting ‘Patriot Way’||04.17.14 at 5:52 pm ET|
FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia is joined by Chris Price to discuss the leadership that offensive captain Logan Mankins brings to the Patriots. Mankins defended the team against the harsh criticism of former linebacker Brandon Spikes and laughed off a prediction from Spikes that his new team, the Bills, would beat the Patriots twice in 2014. Petraglia and Price also discuss how Mankins will stabilize a veteran offensive line that lost its longtime coach, Dante Scarnecchia, to retirement.
1. He sounds optimistic about the upcoming transition period for the New England offensive line.
For the first time since shortly after the earth cooled, Dante Scarnecchia will not be coaching the Patriots offensive line. It’ll be an interesting stretch for Mankins, who will be losing the only position coach he’s known at the professional level. However, Mankins said new offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo “seems like a great guy, and I look forward to working with him.”
“It’s going to be a big change,” Mankins said when asked about moving on from Scarnecchia. “I was lucky enough to have him for nine seasons. I wish that could have continued. But he put in his time and he earned the right to retire. Last time I talked to him, he was enjoying life right now and he’s staying busy. But it will be a lot different. That’s the only o-line coach I’ve known for quite a while now, so, it’ll be a bit of a change.”
What does Mankins want out of a new coach?
“Personally, I just want a coach that’s fair, he’s going to treat everyone the same — there’s no one on a pedestal,” he said. “I think I learned to appreciate that from Dante. He was a hard coach, but he was a fair coach. We always knew he had our backs. He demanded a lot of us, but I think that’s what made a lot of us good players. That’s why he was such a successful coach and lasted so long.”
2. He’s been working a lot with fellow guard Dan Connolly this offseason.
According to Mankins, for the first time in several years, both Mankins and Connolly aren’t dealing with any sort of offseason rehab for surgery. As a result, the two have been working together in the area to ‘get after it’ for a few hours every morning. He said
“It’s been a good partnership right now,” Mankins said. “In years past, I had surgeries, he had surgeries, we had the whole lockout thing. We used to (train) a long time ago until certain things changed that, so this year was nice to get back together.
“We meet every morning at a certain time and get after it for a few hours then go home. It’s always nice to have someone to work out with, especially at your own position, that you are working on the same things,” Mankins said. “We’ve been pushing each other and it’s been working out well.”
Right now, Mankins said it’s just “the big boys throwing around weights.” That will transition to the start of the offseason program on Monday, where coaches can get involved. At that point, it’s expected that more cardio will be worked into the mix. Mankins said center Ryan Wendell has also been present since re-signing about three weeks ago, while youngsters Jordan Devey and Chris Barker have also been present.
(For what it’s worth, Mankins also sounded an optimistic note on the state of right tackle Sebastian Vollmer, who went down in October with a season ending leg injury. “He looks good right now, too. I don’t know his whole update right now, but he looks good and I know he’s working hard,” Mankins said of Vollmer. “There’s good promise there.”)
3. There’s something to be said for continuity.
If everyone returns healthy, the Patriots will have a chance to utilize the same five starting offensive linemen they had at the beginning of the 2013 season — Vollmer (right tackle), Connolly (right guard), Wendell (center), Mankins, (left guard) and Nate Solder (left tackle).
“It’s always good,” said Mankins when asked about continuity. “We know what were doing, (but) it always comes down to making the right blocks and doing a good job. We like the group we have. We like the guys in that room. They’re all hard working guys and they try very hard and they work hard. I think we could have a good season together.
“I look forward to seeing everyone get back and everyone getting to work together finally,” he added. “It’s always exciting, kind of like your first day back at school, I guess. You get to see everyone after the break, get to catch up with some friends you haven’t seen too much of lately, and get to work together, push each other, and see if other guys have been working as hard as you have.”
|Matt Light on D&C: ‘I didn’t honestly know if [Darrelle] Revis would be that guy’ for the Patriots||03.13.14 at 10:13 am ET|
Former Patriots offensive lineman Matt Light joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday to discuss New England’s acquisition of cornerback Darrelle Revis. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Wednesday night that the Patriots and Revis agreed to a one-year, $12 million contract.
“I did figure they’re going to find somebody in the free agency market, or they’re going to find somebody out there that’s got some experience,” Light said. “I didn’t honestly know if Revis would be that guy.
“I didn’t think Revis would say to himself, ‘Hey, I’m going to take a little bit of a hit and go play for a guy that I’ve butted heads with in the past.’ But ultimately, though, you do look at Revis as a guy who is in that point in his career where he said, ‘I want to go win it and I want a legit shot at winning it, and I know that Bill Belichick is that guy.’ He can definitely give that opportunity to him.”
During his one season in Tampa Bay, Revis had 50 tackles with two interceptions and 11 passes defended.
“When you’re running with a guy like Darrelle Revis … [he's] got a little bit of an edge to him,” Light said. “He can go out there and make plays, but not just make plays, but almost intimidate the other team. It’s only going to give a little bit of swagger to the rest of the guys that are back there with him.
“So much of that stuff is proven out throughout the week in practice, so a guy like Darrelle Revis is sitting there, he’s conversing with some of these young guys and they’re going over some strategy and he’s hearing some stuff from Bill that he maybe hasn’t tried before and he’s adding a few more tools to the box and all of those things will add up to hopefully a very confident team when they take the field.”
|Patriots position-by-position breakdown: Offensive line||02.03.14 at 1:46 pm ET|
With the Patriots done for the year, we’ve got an end of the year position-by-position breakdown of where the roster stands. We started with special teams, wide receivers, tight ends, running backs and quarterbacks. Now, it’s the offensive line.
Depth chart: T Nate Solder, G/C Dan Connolly, G/T Logan Mankins, C Ryan Wendell, T/G Marcus Cannon, T Sebastian Vollmer, G Josh Kline, G/T Will Svitek, G Chris Barker, OT Markus Zusevics. (C/G Braxton Cave, T Jordan Devey and OL R.J. Mattes are all practice squadders.)
Overview: It was an up-and-down season for the New England offensive line. On many occasions, the group was able to do an excellent job buying time for quarterback Tom Brady to deliver the ball, as well as create sizable holes for backs like LeGarrette Blount to run through over the course of the season. However, there were times — and part of this was due in part to breakdowns in other areas, as well as injury — that the line struggled to hold up. Over the course of the season, the Patriots faced some of the best defensive front sevens in the league, and while they were frequently up to the challenge, there were times where they had issues, particularly in pass protection. Some of that can be blamed on the fact that, as a group, the offense was still searching for an identity and struggling with the acclimation of so many new faces. But don’t tell that to the offensive line, a group that continued to hold itself to an almost impossibly high standard regardless of the opponent and situation.
As a group, it was clear that health was an occasional issue. Vollmer had a leg injury that limited him to eight games, while Solder missed a game because of a head injury. As a result, the Patriots had to rely on versatility and depth to get them through some of the toughest points of the season. After Solder went down late in the loss to the Dolphins in Miami, Kline stepped in at left guard and Mankins played left tackle. The same combo faced the Ravens the following week, and held up impressively in the face of the stern Baltimore pass rush.
In the end, much of the mental toughness that eventually became the calling card of the 2013 Patriots came from the offensive line, and, by extension, Mankins. Now the second most senior member of the roster in terms of time in a New England uniform (he was drafted in 2005, and while there have been guys who have been in the league longer — Andre Carter, Isaac Sopoaga — only Brady has been with the Patriots longer than Mankins), he’s the leader of the line, and one of the premier leaders in the locker room. After nine years in the league, Mankins — who was named a second-team All-Pro for the fifth time in his career in 2013 — continues to set the standard.
Going forward, this group will be interesting to watch. The Patriots have a decision to make on pending free agents Wendell and Svitek, and Vollmer faces a return from a leg injury that prematurely ended his 2013 season. And then, there’s the question of how the group will react to the retirement of longtime offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, who leaves the franchise after 30-plus seasons. Stability, consistency and continuity have always been the watchwords of the New England offensive line, and as it enters a new era without Scarnecchia, the transition to new coach Dave DeGuglielmo will be something to watch in 2014.
Best moment: It’s shortsighted to measure an offensive line purely on sacks alone, but their work against the Falcons was pretty impressive — Brady wasn’t sacked in a September win in Atlanta. (The only game all season he wasn’t sacked.) The stretch drive the group was able to put together over the final three regular season games and the first playoff game, clearing the way for Blount to carry the offense on his back, particularly against the Bills, Ravens and Colts.
Worst moment: Probably the singular worst series for the New England offensive line was coming out of the half for the start of the third quarter against the Jets on Oct. 20: the first six offensive plays for the Patriots went as follows: sack/interception/four-gain gain/five-yard gain/no gain/sack. It’s tough to lay all that at the feet of the New England offensive line, but by Mankins’ own admission, it starts up front, and the line wasn’t able to get the job done. By the end of the quarter, a 21-10 lead turned into a 27-21 deficit, and ended up in an overtime loss. For more from Mankins on that breakdown, click here.
By the numbers: 1,218. The number of snaps played by Wendell this season, tied with Brady for most on the team.
Money quote: “I’ve coached a lot of tough guys. I don’t think there’s any that I would put ahead of him. Maybe some on that level, but none ahead. Anytime Logan needs help getting off the field, you feel like it’s something serious. Usually he ends up just staying out there, but for him to need assistance getting off the field was definitely a concerning moment. Then when [head athletic trainer] Jim Whelan came back and told me, as you mentioned, after the next series that Logan was back, I was a little bit surprised to hear that. He’s a tough individual, tough-minded, physically and mentally tough.” — Bill Belichick on Logan Mankins
|Retiring Patriots OL coach Dante Scarnecchia on D&C: ‘The game’s not forever’||01.24.14 at 9:59 am ET|
Dante Scarnecchia joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday to discuss his decision to retire from his position as a Patriots offensive line coach after 30 years with the team. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Scarnecchia announced his retirement on Wendesday.
“Well, I think it’s been something that I’ve considered actually over the last couple of years as you get into your 60s and, in my case, into the mid-60s — I’m three weeks away from being 66,” Scarnecchia said. “I just said OK.
“I can tell you I could keep going and I feel great and I love the game and all the rest of it. But at some point — and I’ve always told this to the offensive linemen whenever we lost a guy out of our meeting room who we all felt pretty strong about — that the game’s not forever. It’s not forever for the players and it’s not forever for the coaches.”
This past season Scarnecchia was the longest-tenured coach in the NFL after entering the league in 1982 and spending 30 of 32 seasons with New England.
“For some unbelievable and unexplainable reason, when we lost a coach out of here I was able to stay on with the coach that was coming in,” Scarnecchia said. “I don’t know how to explain that. When [Bill Parcells] came in here, I did not know Bill Parcells at all. For some reason three guys he was bringing in spoke on my behalf saying, ‘You ought to keep this guy,’ and I was fortunate to be kept on there.
“There were a couple of times where I was able to say — and it was when Parcells went to the Jets and he asked me if I would come along — I said I’ve got this daughter and she’s almost out of high school, and I can’t do that. I can’t do that,” Scarnecchia added.
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