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This Patriots’ Player Is Quietly Becoming An Underrated Pillar Of The Offense

The Patriots offensive line on the edges may be somewhat leaky, but the same isn’t true of the interior line. David Andrews has been a huge reason why, with his play at center stabilizing the offense quite well. With a concussion keeping him out of game action for a couple weeks, Patriots fans are learning just how valuable Andrews is to the team, and how much changes for the entire offense when he’s not on the field.

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What Does Andrews Contribute To The Patriots’ Line

First and foremost, he contributes experience. Coming into the league as an undrafted free agent out of Georgia, Andrews made an impact off the bat. Bill Belichick, even beyond the draft, has always been able to find gems, and the importance he places on the trenches was obvious, and Andrews was no slouch, not in the slightest. He has been essentially a permanent fixture as a Patriots’ center, having started 86 of 89 games played. He has won two super bowls with the team, and has simply been solid and reliable for the Patriots.

He excels in terms of run blocking, but also in terms of pass blocking, and has a 70.1 PFF rating, which is eighth in the league among centers. Two aspects that have plagued the Patriots’ offensive line are penalties and botched protections, and with just three penalties and one sack allowed, Andrews has been solid. He is the center – no pun intended – of an interior group of linemen in Andrews, Onwenu, and Strange, that have been excellent.

Of course, with the center position comes the inherent disadvantage of their matchup having a head start because of the time it takes to snap the ball. Andrews accounts for this in a few ways. First of all, his agile and careful footwork allows him to position himself to make a block. His anticipation and ability to read the defense allows him to quickly find his man and make the block. Finally, his sound blocking technique combined with his raw power allow him to sustain blocks throughout the play.

What Does The Line Look Like Without David?

In the last game-and-a-half, the Patriots have had to play without Andrews due to concussion, and it has had a huge impact on the team. Replacing David in the second half of the Bears game and the Jets game was hybrid guard/center James Ferentz, who didn’t crack the Patriots’ original 53-man roster and was elevated from the practice squad.

The difference was obvious. Against the Jets, Ferentz allowed one sack and was indirectly responsible for multiple more in a game where Mac Jones was sacked six times. In his 93 snaps, he has recorded a PFF rating of just 51.6.

More than the stats, though, the tape made it obvious just how much of a gulf hFerentz looked lost out there at many points, and it took him two to three times as much time to find his man, and by the time he did, he was already losing the matchup, and his struggling technique – which was a big reason he didn’t crack the original 53-man roster – just made this worse.

All of a sudden, rather than having a rock-solid interior offensive line, the Patriots had holes both on the edge and in the middle. The drop-offs in run blocking and pass protection were a huge damper on the entire Patriots’ offense, especially on the plus side of the field, where they had a settle for field goals five of the six times they were in scoring position.

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