Here’s a reason to look at the bright side — Yahoo’s Jason Cole put together a 1-32 to list of the league’s lines. And the Patriots came in second.
Wrote Cole (who elicited the help of Football Outsiders): “Critics will immediately say the Patriots are over-ranked at this spot. There’s no debating that the group’s high ranking is partially a reflection of the rest of the league being downright mediocre. The Pats have problems right now at left tackle, where Matt Light is close to the end. If they don’t re-sign guard Logan Mankins, the best of the group but who is so unhappy that he has demanded a trade, this unit is going into serious freefall. That said, few groups in the NFL work together as well as the Patriots. Obviously quarterback Tom Brady, the fourth-most hit passer in the league, helps a lot. But it’s still a good unit.”
It underscores a point we made, with the help of a couple scouts, last week, before all hell broke loose with Mankins. The Patriots have always thrived building their line on the “balance” model, which means have five good players, rather than a couple outstanding ones filling one side or the other.
But what happens when one of your own, in that balance model, outgrows the mold and moves into the elite category? Looks like we’ll find out as this thing evolves.