In Trent Brown, Patriots rookie Cole Strange has someone to lean on — literally and figuratively.
Strange at times this season has played well at left guard, but it’s been a consistent struggle for the Chattanooga product over the last few weeks. The 2022 first-round pick wasn’t good in the Week 7 loss to the Chicago Bears at Gillette Stadium and he struggled the following week against the New York Jets before briefly getting benched for Isaiah Wynn in the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium.
But the low point of Strange’s rookie campaign arrived during Sunday’s 26-3 win over the Indianapolis Colts in Foxboro. After just two ugly series, head coach Bill Belichick pulled strange in favor of Wynn, who stayed at left guard until Strange rotated back in during the fourth quarter. Strange finished the game with 15 offensive snaps compared to Wynn’s 48.
Brown was asked about Strange’s rollercoaster season during a Monday morning Zoom call.
“I tell him before every game … I try to keep him level-headed and not get into his head about what’s going on,” the Patriots’ monstrous left tackle said. “Everybody’s gonna have some bad plays here and there, You just gotta do what you do to play your game and not let anything else deter you or discourage you.”
Belichick after Sunday’s game deflected a question about swapping Strange for Wynn. But New England’s head coach was a bit more open Monday morning while offering an actual endorsement of Strange.
“I think Cole’s a good player,” Belichick said during a Zoom call. “He’s going to be a better player as he gains experience and learns how to play in the league. He’ll play. We’ve used a lot of guys there on the offensive line. We’ve had to in couple of cases. We’ll use multiple players and I’m sure that he’ll help us.”
Strange’s recent issues aren’t all that surprising. Slightly undersized for his position, Strange always was going to have a tough time with larger defensive linemen, the likes of which he’s faced the last few weeks. It probably is fair to assume he’ll bulk up during the offseason to combat the problem.
But for now, his inconsistent play is making life even more difficult for a Patriots offense that can’t do much of anything right. It’ll be interesting to see whether the Patriots feel comfortable enough with Strange’s work during the bye week to give him another chance against New York’s excellent front seven in Week 11.