Much of the Patriots success this year has been due to their dominating offensive line. Trent Brown is the left tackle, charged with protecting Brady’s blind side. Brown played at the University of Florida and spent his first three NFL seasons with the San Francisco 49ers. He’s also the league’s heaviest player at a massive 6’8” and 380 pounds. This year, he’s taken his talents to the next level, with the help of renowned Patriots Offensive Line Coach Dante Scarnecchia. He’s been making NFL D-lineman look like little kids trying to push their dad over. It’s important for every team to protect their quarterback, but it’s especially important when yours is a 41-year old legend.
The New England offense gets most of the headlines, but their defense has been doing their job this season. They rank tenth in points per game allowed and have forced 28 turnovers, good for fifth place. Part of this has been due to the emergence of undrafted rookie cornerback J.C. Jackson. The 23-year-old wasn’t on anybody’s radar coming into the season, but he’s played his way into the starting lineup. Late in the season, he was trusted to cover major threats like Juju Smith-Schuster and Travis Kelce. He’ll be key to slowing down the high-powered Los Angeles Rams offense.
Cordarrelle Patterson was a very exciting prospect coming out of college in 2013, and was taken in the first round by the Minnesota Vikings. But he never quite lived up to expectations. Patterson’s never had a season with more than 500 receiving yards or five touchdowns. To be fair, he hasn’t been a stud this year with the Patriots either. But what Patterson does do is add another dimension to their offense. His speed on end-arounds has been a valuable weapon all season long, and the defense has to account for his speed down the field. He’s also a talented returner with the ability to take a kick for a score at any time.
The impressive thing is that these players are all new to the team this season. They’ve been seamlessly added into the mix and they’ve made an instant difference. This speaks to their ability to adapt as well as the ability of the coaching staff to successfully integrate them into the team. When the Patriots play the Rams next Sunday, February 3, they will be depending on these three players to step up, just like they have been all season.
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