Outside of a promising three-game stretch, the Patriots offensive line hasn’t been good this season. The group was awful in New England’s Week 8 road loss to the New York Jets and wasn’t much better in last Sunday’s home win against the Indianapolis Colts.
However, things likely would be much worse if not for a sneaky-big change made early in the season.
During the preseason, New England had assistant O-line coach Billy Yates begin games in the coaching booth before spending the second half on the sideline. The Patriots kept that setup in their season-opening road loss to the Miami Dolphins.
The arrangement, which at one point during the preseason resulted in center David Andrews coaching up his teammates, had play-caller and primary O-line coaching Matt Patricia pulling double-duty. And, despite what Patricia and quarterback Mac Jones said about the setup, it always felt like an unsustainable operation.
The Patriots clearly felt the same way, as they shifted gears before Week 2 and since have had Yates on the sideline from start to finish. Andrews previously spoke about the benefits of Yates being on the sideline and left tackle Trent Brown echoed his sentiments during a Monday morning Zoom call.
“I think it’s important for us to be able to get the right-that-second coaching and adjustments and not really have to do it ourselves,” Brown said. “Because I think some of the other coaches are doing so many other things from each offensive bench. It’s nice to have our own delegated coach to walk us through things as they’re being spoken about through the headsets.”
Earlier in the season, Patricia indicated New England might evaluate its O-line coaching setup on a weekly basis. He opened the door for Yates to return to the booth at some point. But such a reversal hasn’t taken place, and for good reason. It’s clear that the Patriots offensive line needs more hands-on coaching on gamedays, rather than less.
That said, the group has much to work on during the bye week after a turbulent first half of the season. And New England’s O-line will face an immediate challenge when the Patriots host the Jets on Sunday, Nov. 20, in a pivotal AFC East rematch.