There are Problems for a football team. And then, there are “problems.”
Break out the quotation marks for this one — If Matt Light’s ready to play on Sunday, what do the Patriots do along the offensive line?
Rookie Sebastian Vollmer, as has been well-documented, has been off the charts in Light’s place at left tackle. So do you send him to the bench? Do you move him to the right side, where he worked a bunch in camp? Or do you move Light to the right side, after he’s manned the left for almost nine years?
Flipping Light seems to be a logical move, given how Vollmer has put the brakes on some of the most explosive edge rushers in the game — something Light struggled to do at times — and how Nick Kaczur had problems against Indy’s Robert Mathis. But would it be that easy for Light to adjust? Well, Bill Belichick remembers playing Light on the right side in 2001, the Purdue product’s rookie year, and used that experiment to explain the prospects of such a move.
“He probably would’ve been a lot better off playing at left tackle,” Belichick said. “He came in, we put him at right tackle, and then he ended up hurting his ankle in preseason and we ended up moving him back to left tackle and he started most of his rookie year there. He got in the Super Bowl, and all that, but if I had put him at left tackle in the first place, instead of at right tackle, he probably would’ve had a better rookie year.
“Did we think he could play right tackle? Yeah. But I think he’s a better left tackle than he is a right tackle. I’m not saying he can’t do it, he just better on the other side. Nick, on the other hand, came in as a left tackle in college, all the way, the first thing we do is move him over to right tackle, and he’s done well there.
“Last year, we got into a bind, and previous years when we’ve been in a bind, we move Nick back to left tackle. He truly has played both. But, again, until something like that happens, you don’t really know. Can Matt play right tackle? I’m sure he could. But he’s done a lot better at left tackle.”
The crux of what Belichick is saying seems to be this: Vollmer and Kaczur have plenty of position flexibility. Light might have that, but he’s been on the left for so long, it might be hard to know.
Before that, the coach was asked if he knew (with Stephen Neal’s head injury compounding all this) what his line would look like Sunday. Quickly, he said, “I don’t.”
Light was quick to move along in the locker room, characterizing his status as “questionable” for the Jets game as hurried out of there.
So for now, it looks like all this is anyone’s guess.