What NFL Writer Believes Could Be Patriots’ Achilles Heal In 2020 Season

New England's offensive concerns go beyond the skill positions

by Adam London

August 31, 2020

Offensive line has a chance to be a strength for the Patriots in the 2020 NFL season.

There is a pretty significant question mark hovering over one piece of the unit, however.

The return of center David Andrews and the re-signing of left guard Joe Thuney were matched by the subtraction of Marcus Cannon, who opted out of the upcoming campaign over coronavirus concerns. The Patriots have a few candidates to replace Cannon at right tackle, but none of them inspire too much optimism.

Strong OT play is important for every team, but especially one with a new starting quarterback who all but surely will need some time to get a true grasp of the offense. As such, ESPN’s Bill Barnwell believes right tackle could be New England’s Achilles heal in 2020.

“No team was hit harder by opt-outs than the Patriots,” Barnwell wrote for ESPN.com. “In addition to losing veterans Dont’a Hightower and Patrick Chung on defense, they will be without another longtime contributor in right tackle Marcus Cannon this season. Bill Belichick also lost legendary offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, who retired for the second time in seven years.

“With little depth at tackle and a pair of stout guards in Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason, it appears New England could hand the right tackle job to an interior lineman. Belichick traded last year a fourth-round pick to the Ravens for (Jermaine) Eluemunor and a sixth-round selection, but the Texas A&M product played only 29 offensive snaps. Belichick doubled down by tendering the restricted free agent a one-year, $2.1-million deal. Korey Cunningham and Yodny Cajuste would figure as the replacements if Eluemunor struggles. This is a major situation to watch, especially given the fragility of new Patriots quarterback Cam Newton.”

It won’t be too long until we receive some idea of how serious the Patriots’ right tackle issue really is. New England is set to open up its 2020 season Sept. 13 against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium.

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