The Patriots understand that protecting Tom Brady is a top priority, but they aren’t exactly sure who will watch his blind side in 2019.
Keeping Tom Brady upright has been a staple of the Patriots’ success for the better part of two decades. Continuity at left tackle has been a huge contributing factor to the quarterback’s safety over the years. Unfortunately for Bill Belichick, the crucial position is starting to look like a revolving door.
Trent Brown manned the left tackle spot exceptionally well for the team last year but he parlayed his excellent season to a big free agent deal with the Raiders this offseason. That means that New England will be forced to install a third new starter at left tackle in as many seasons.
The franchise hoped drafting Isaiah Wynn in the first round of the 2018 draft would provide some stability. Then the former Georgia star suffered a torn Achilles that sidelined him for his entire rookie campaign. The fact he’s still not participating fully in team activities has opened the door for Joe Thuney to protect Brady’s blind side.
Thuney certainly isn’t a new player for the Patriots to rely on. He’s been a fixture at left guard since he was drafted in 2016. That doesn’t mean left tackle is entirely foreign for him after playing there at NC State.
Of course, the transition from playing tackle at the college level to stopping the best edge rushers on the planet is sizable. At least Thuney seems to be up for the challenge. Like a typical Patriots star, he isn’t getting too carried away about the possibility of moving to a more glamorous position. Instead, he tells the Boston Herald his focus remains centered on “playing wherever the coaches want (him) to play.”
Despite Thuney’s willingness to move to left tackle, the Patriots still need to hope Wynn gets healthy and shows he’s capable of handling the position. That would allow the coaching staff to slide Thuney back inside where he’s already proven he can be an above-average starter.
Protecting Brady from pressure up the middle isn’t quite as important as preventing him from suffering hits he can’t see, but that doesn’t mean it’s not something the Patriots want to accomplish.
There’s nothing for Patriots fans to panic about yet. Offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia has allowed the franchise to turn groups of relatively unheralded players into top-notch lines for years. There’s no reason to think he can’t manufacture a quality left tackle this year.