Patriots

Bedard: What’s fact and fiction about the Patriots’ offensive line/blocking so far

(Adam Richins for BSJ)

Through four games this season — and just about any week in any season — there are no shortage of opinions on the Patriots.

We can all agree the defense has been terrific, which we figured, although going up against a murder's row of QBs named Ryan Fitzpatrick, Luke Falk and Josh Allen certainly helps.

As far as the offense goes, it seems sluggish — at least the last two weeks since they took a 20-0 lead on the Jets and have put together just four drives of more than five plays in their last 22 possessions.

You might be surprised to know that so far this season, the Patriots rank 15th overall in offense — 24th in rushing and ninth in passing. Last season the Patriots were actually worse through four games — 23rd overall, 12th in rushing and 22nd in passing. And Tom Brady's passer rating actually is a little bit higher this season (94.0 to 97.5) without Trent Brown, David Andrews, Rob Gronkowski, et al.

So, yeah ... just like we all figured.

In any event, I wanted to look a little bit more into some of the conventional wisdom this year in regards to the offensive line/running game/blocking — some of which has been spewed from this space and mouth.

What's really fact and fiction?

The statements I wanted to look into:

1. The pass blocking is worse for Brady this season.
2. The run blocking is way worse this year.
3. Because the run blocking is worse, the play-action game has suffered.
4. Shaq Mason is off to a rough start.
5. The Patriots have taken a big step back without Trent Brown at left tackle.
6. The blocking at tight end is much worse without Rob Gronkowski and Dwayne Allen.
7. There's been a dropoff at center from David Andrews to Ted Karras.

I think you'll be surprised by some of the results. I was.

Now, before we get into this, a disclaimer. You really can't make direct comparisons from one season to the next. Just because, for example, Ted Karras is just as efficient as Andrews statistically, that doesn't mean there's no difference between the players. The Patriots could be calling different running or passing plays based on the strengths/weaknesses of a certain player and that could help or hurt the team. We don't really know. They are also facing different defenses. But I think you can make some general comparisons as long as you don't look at this as being definitive one way or another.

With that out of the way, let's get into it.

1. The pass blocking is worse for Brady this season, and it's because of the offensive line.

VERDICT: True ... but there hasn't been a huge difference.