In the wake of Super Bowl LIII there has been no shortage of praise thrown at the New England Patriots and their offensive line coach Seattle Seahawks Hats
, Dante Scarnecchia, for both the job the offensive line did in protecting Tom Brady and the diversity of the team’s rushing attack in the Super Bowl. However, the success of the Patriots in these two areas is not random, and stems from a word that is talked about quite a bit regarding offensive lines: Continuity. Fans are likely tired of hearing this word over and over from pundits, coaches and other observers, but large parts of the Patriots success over the past two decades can be traced back to this concept. Here is the type of run game diversity that New England is able to runas a result of their continuity, and as a result of not having to teach new guys new concepts season after season.Specifically, the Patriots successfully manage the offensive line by maintaining continuity over the years by limiting the number of rookies starting in any given season. To that point, here is the number of games rookie offensive linemen for the Pats have started since the spring of 1999 when Pete Carroll moved Dante Scarnecchia from special teams coach to offensive line coach for the team. Games started by rookie offensive linemen for the New England Patriots since 1999SeasonGames Started by RookieSeasonGames Started by Rookie What immediately jumps out from that table are two seasons - 2005 and 2015 - as they are obviously far above the norm for the number of games rookie linemen started for the team. It’s no coincidence that 2015 is the season for in which the Pats fell to the Broncos in the AFC Championship Game in which Brady took four sacks and 17 hits. That was the game that led the Patriots to decide not to renew Dave DeGuglielmo’s contract as offensive line coach, and to bring Scarnecchia back from his two year retirement. However, that 2015 season laid the foundation for the Patriots line for the foreseeable future. Those 30 games started by rookies came from: Guard Shaq Mason, 10 startsCenter David Andrews, 11 startsGuard Tre’ Jackson, 9 startsNow, Jackson saw his career derailed by a knee injury, and missing the 2016 season on PUP and being out of football in 2017 and 2018, he’s still trying to make things work in the Alliance of American Football. He just turned 26, which makes him five months younger than George Fant, so he still may have a future in the NFL if his knee heals, however, his story is a different tangent that is not the focus of this piece. The focus of this piece is the simple fact that since the 2015 took their lumps by starting three rookie offensive linemen two of those linemen have continued to develop into high caliber players. Specifically, since that season Mason and Andrews have combined to start 91 of 96 possible games for New England, and neither of them is anywhere near old. Mason will turn 26 just days before the 2019 season and Andrews will turn 27 just prior to the start of training camp. That’s forty percent of the offensive line about which the Patriots don’t have to worry, and then there’s Joe Thuney. Thuney has played basically every single snap possible during his three years in New England since being drafted in the third round of the 2016 draft, and it would be quite a shock if Bill Belichick doesn’t sign Thuney to an extension sometime over the next year. That would lock up the core of the Patriots line for the foreseeable future Seattle Seahawks Womens Hoodie
, as Andrews is under contract through 2020 and Mason is signed through 2023. In short, the Patriots have established a young core for the offensive line to provide holes for the run game and protect Tom Brady, and a huge piece of the establishment of that foundation was the fact that the team bit the bullet and used three rookie starters in 2015. Perhaps they should send a Super Bowl ring to Dave DeGuglielmo for helping establish that young core.Seahawks-Vikings: What to watch for in the third game of the preseason The Seattle Seahawks take on the Minnesota Vikings on Friday night in their third game of the preseason. The third week of preseason is often the most telling, as the starters get an extended run, playing into the third quarter. For the Seahawks, there were a couple questions already answered this week. The kicking and punting competitions were settled, as Jon Ryan and Jason Myers were released. J.D. McKissic’s injury all but assured C.J. Prosise a roster spot as questions surrounded his status on the team. All three phases are beginning to take form, but there are still a host of unresolved competitions and questions that could be answered against the Vikings. Does Mike Davis or C.J. Prosise receive the majority of passing down reps with the first team?While Prosise’s risk of getting cut was largely overstated, it was a discouraging sign last week when Davis was on the field for the two-minute drill with the starters over Prosise. That was largely offset by Prosise performing well as Alex McGough moved the offense down the field in the fourth quarter. McKissic’s injury has presumably settled the competition between Prosise, Davis and McKissic, as both Prosise and Davis should be safe now. However, the pecking order remains to be seen, and that could come into play as the bottom of every NFL roster churns next week during cutdowns.Without Rashaad Penny or McKissic, one of Davis or Prosise will see a large number of snaps on passing downs with the starters. Whoever it is should see that role replicated in Week 1. Who is leading the competition for the sixth wide receiver spot?By now, five wide receivers appear to be locked in: Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, Jaron Brown, Brandon Marshall and David Moore. Depending on how Seattle chooses to structure their roster, a sixth receiver could be added to the group.While surely the personnel department would love to see Amara Darboh get a second season, his injury has set him back in the battle. The Seahawks currently have 14 receivers on the roster, but other than Darboh, it comes down to three names: Marcus Johnson, Damore’ea Stringfellow and Keenan Reynolds. All three saw snaps with the first team offense against the L.A. Chargers, but just Reynolds saw constant reps in punt coverage. All three will likely see time with the first team offense against the Vikings, as Marshall is eased in and Baldwin remains sidelined Womens Customized Seattle Seahawks Jerseys
, but who sees the most time — and what they do with it — will be telling.How are the remaining drives divided between Austin Davis and Alex McGough?Although Davis remains the backup quarterback, McGough has begun to gain momentum. He had a much better performance in the second game of the preseason, throwing for 97 yards on nine completions and capping off his touchdown drive with three excellent throws. Perhaps more importantly, McGough has started to gain a greater understanding of everything else, after struggling early in camp. Davis will be the second quarterback in the game against Minnesota, after Russell Wilson and the starters depart, but just how long does he last before McGough enters the game? The seventh round pick is still a possible practice squad candidate, but with a strong finish to August, he could sway Seattle to go with the rookie over the veteran.George Fant at right tackleAs obvious as this is, there are a couple things specifically to watch for. The first, quite simply, is how comfortable Fant looks at right tackle. The change in mechanics from one side of the line to the other is often overlooked, and it will take an adjustment period. If Fant looks comfortable enough that it isn’t taking away from the other parts of his game — setting, striking, maintaining his block — it could encourage the coaching staff to make a move. The second thing to watch for is when Fant enters the game. Carroll said on Thursday Fant would “Get a good look” at right tackle against the Vikings. If that good look includes a series or two with the starters, it calls Germain Ifedi’s status as a Week 1 starter into question. Rasheem Green against starting NFL tacklesThe star of the preseason through two games, Green’s performance in both games has been extremely encouraging. The third game will tell us the most about what we can expect from him in 2018, however. Will the traits Green needed to improve most as an NFL player — functional strength and hand usage — continue to look massively improved against Minnesota’s starting tackles? Or, will we see a player who resembles the raw prospect he was at USC? There is no doubt Green has refined the technical aspects of his game since January, but getting reps — even in a limited role — against NFL starters will tell us just how far he has come in his development.Will Austin Calitro remain a constant on punt coverage units?In my latest 53-man roster projection, Calitro was a new addition to an otherwise unchanged linebacker group. Calitro had a terrific game on defense against the Indianapolis Colts, but the biggest reason for Calitro’s addition was his continued appearance on special teams.As Rotoworld’s Evan Silva noted last week, appearing on punt coverage units throughout a preseason game can be a good indicator of roster status. Calitro has been a constant on special teams, including punt coverage, and has stood out on both defense and teams at different times. If that continues against the Vikings www.seahawkscheapshops.com
, Calitro could be locking down a sixth and final linebacker spot on the Seahawks’ 53. Dontae Johnson’s late roster pushAfter missing the majority of the offseason and the beginning of camp with a broken foot, Johnson’s roster chances looked slim. But injuries in the secondary to Neiko Thorpe, Trovon Reed and Byron Maxwell coincided with Johnson's return, and he has seen starting reps as a result. Maxwell will again sit out against Minnesota, giving Johnson another opportunity to split starting snaps with Tre Flowers. There’s a better-than-decent chance Johnson, Maxwell and Flowers are competing for two roster spots — and Flowers isn’t going anywhere.If the season were to start tomorrow, Maxwell would start opposite Shaquill Griffin. But if Johnson performs well against the Vikings, Maxwell’s spot has to be questioned. Does Maurice Alexander or Delano Hill replace Bradley McDougald?A pectoral injury will keep McDougald out of the lineup against Minnesota, and open up playing time for both Alexander and Hill. As it stands, both should be a part of the 53-man roster, but like Prosise and Davis, the pecking order is important. A lot can happen during roster cuts — including the potential return of one Earl Thomas — meaning there could be room for just one of the two.Alexander played better than Hill in his preseason debut against L.A., and saw snaps on special teams. Hill, meanwhile, has had a rough preseason on defense, particularly against the run. Helping his case, however, was the versatility he displayed against the Chargers, lining up as the deep safety when the Seahawks went to the backups. What either player does with the opportunity provided by McDougald’s injury could massively impact their roster status on September 1st. After Friday’s game against the Vikings, Seattle closes the preseason at home against the Oakland Raiders on August 30th. That game will largely be played by backups and cut candidates, meaning the matchup against Minnesota could be the last chance to impress for players on the bubble.