Disasters In Retrospect 

Part Two

              By Tom Mahoney              

It’s like I always say, “If you consider a TE to be half an offense lineman, then Offensive Linemen are literally half the offense.” Consistency and continuity are always the hallmark of great offensive lines. This year the Pats O-Line never met consistency and could spell continuity with a dictionary in one hand and Google in the other. This O-Line has been gutted, rerouted, and reconstructed so many times this season that it is remarkable they can even remember each others names. If there is an award for Assist Coach of the Year, and any votes for anybody but Dante Scarnecchia, then they are idiots. The Pat did not have all five of their projected starter, before the season started, on the field together at any time: Light, Mankins, Koppen, Connolly, and Vollmer.

The season even started out weird with the Lockout, and the Pats signing and trading for three big named guys. And least we forget, even before the preseason could start, the team was struck by the worst disaster imaginable.

Then the preseason ends and the season begins. They had two veteran bookends tackles that were going to be the strength of the O-Line. I thought Vollmer was going to be their best O-Linemen (even though he was drafted in the same 2nd Round as Butler and Brace (and Chung), and we all know that that 2nd Round was the purest sign that BB couldn’t draft. How do spell Alexandre Dumbass;-). So on week one, veteran blindside blocker Matt Light is listed as Inactive for the first game of the season. Light recovers too slowly from off season knee surgery to start the season. So BB has to throw in a rookie, with a blind spot on the inside rush, into the fray to protect Brady’s blindside.

Then they sign a veteran O-Lineman who has never play with or for them before and they weren’t even sure he could play in Miami, Brian Waters. He was signed during Week One and never saw a moment of the offseason or preseason. KC cut him before Training Camp six weeks before the Pats signed him. He was thrust onto the field the second he was on the team, without training camp, and showing signs of being out of shape. Remember BB said he didn’t think Waters could play every snap his first game (I think I may have just made that up;-). However, he didn’t start the first game, as Connolly started. However, he and Connolly rotated the first four series at ORG. Also, Waters was an OLG at KC, not an ORG. 

And thank god they did sign him, because were would the O-Line have been if not for Brian Waters (who I thought was Brian Winters;-). When the backup to Connolly went down they would have had no vested veteran to put in at OG. Not even some guy named Thomas. Then, of course, in the Second Quarter of the season the brains of the operation is lost for the season. Connolly is taken out of his ORG position to replace Koppen at Center, which wasn’t that bad as Connolly has been terrific for two seasons. However, the underdeveloped and out of shape Waters was jammed in permanently at ORG. He played in 69 of 80 snaps in the Miami game and started every game the rest of the season.

Then Light comes back, and Vollmer hurts his back and the rookie with a blind spot on the inside rush is back in the starting lineup again. He is solid if not spectacular in the running game.

Then, you can’t make this crap up, Connolly the backup OC goes down. They throw in the 3rd string OG/OC, some guy named Whybother, or Whatthe, or Whatsamatter-U, or Whatever. The offense suffers a little. Which wasn’t so bad because they were on pace to break every existing passing record in the NFL after three weeks. They still kept Brady on pace to break the all time passing record, while the running game slowed down a little. Then Vollmer comes back. And BB and Scars, and well the soon to be Penn ST BB, come with my favorite formation of all-time, the Big Ugly. When they could switch in and out of the Power Spread and The Big Ugly they looked like a Super Bowl team. 

Then, and I can’t make this crap up, Whatsamatter-U gets injured, and they can’t even spell consistency, never mind C-O-U-N-T-A-N-E-W-T-I-T-Y. They have to pull Ronald out of the Framingham McDonald’s to start what, two games at Center? And, Ronald actually played well. And I started to feel good about the team again. What a Maroon.

Then Vollmer goes down with a foot injury.

Okay, I am telling you that nobody, and I mean nobody, could make this crap up. They stick the rookie with the blind-spot back in at RT/TE, and put a rookie who had never touch the turf of an NFL game into his spot. This rookie was not taken off the PUP List. He was taken off the PFC List. And not the Private First Class list, but the Physically Fighting Cancer list. Marcus Canon was getting cancer treatment during the Lockout. He missed everything going into the second third of the season. Rookie 5th Round picks, who miss everything in preseason and the first third of the season don’t play during their rookie seasons. Never mind rookies who miss everything, do to Cancer treatment. I don’t care how big a Giants fanatic you are, even you can’t say that you have a player on your team that fought harder than Marcus Cannon this year. Plus, they played him. He sucks in the first game, and misses just about every assignment. But when Vollmer hurt his foot he gets back in at ORT for Solder when they go into the Big Ugly and a play or two after, and he starts to play well.

Then the double dipping disaster of the season. Do you remember December? Vollmer is out with a foot injury. Matt Light sprains his ankle in warm-ups before the Miami game in week 16. I mean, nobody would believe this crap if you made it up. Seriously. They don’t have a veteran O-Tackle on the game day roster. So what do they do? They move Mankins to OLT. Some guy named Thomas, who was cut in November and only got on the field to be a blocking FB in goal line situation, is thrown in at OLG. Okay, disaster averted. Oops! Then Mankins goes down with a knee injury in the First Quarter. So they are forced to switch Solder back over to OLT, and lo and behold there is Canon fresh off the PFC playing virtually the whole game against Miami at ORT. Their O-Linemen for most of the game was Solder, Thomas, Connolly, Waters, and Cannon. Essentially three rookies and Waters and Connolly (though I believe Thomas bounced around a little with out playing before he came to the Pats.).

They rebuilt this O-Line 4 to 5 times during the season. In week 16 against Miami they rebuilt the O-line in warm ups and during the First Quarter. Unbelievable! Now here we are in the Super Bowl, and the O-Line is the healthiest it’s been all year. We all know this game rest in the O-Lines ability to fight off NY’s vaunted front four. With all the ridiculous crap they went through this year, that doesn’t really seem that daunting for this amazingly resilient crew.

*

*note

Lord knows I have heard and said some stupid shit in my time, and I am the master of Random Acts of Stupidity. However, this stupid shit about Brady being overrated is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. If you call yourself a football expert, a football fan, or human being and you uttered the words “Brady is overrated” this week, then you are the defining definition of stupid. Okay, just for the record. Though he won’t get credit for it, because Brees did a week before him. Brady broke another unbreakable record when he passed Dan Marino single season yardage record of 5,084 Yards. Before this season only one QB had thrown for over 5,ooo yards. Brady threw for over 5,ooo yards this season. No he didn’t get the credit he should have because Brees reached the un-reachble figure of 5,000 yards passing this season first. But that doesn’t really diminish what he did this season. He was the third QB to throw for over 5,ooo yards in a single season in 2011. How can climbing that un-climbable height, especially with that raga-muffin O-Line, every be considered over-rated by even the most un-rational of Patriots haters. Plus, he was the first unanimous NFL MVP in 2010. I said it before and I’ll say it again, “If you call yourself a football expert, football fan, or human being and you uttered the words ‘Brady is over-rated’ this week, then you are the defining definition of stupid.”

To be continued...

 

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