In the AFC Championship game, Tom Brady had pressure on him more often than not. This pressure is what ultimately unraveled the normally powerful offense, leading to the Patriots heading home instead of Santa Clara, California. Unfortunately the group that Patriots offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo prepared to face the Broncos proved to be completely inadequete. They were dominated all game long by Demarcus Ware, Von Miller, and Derek Wolfe.
On Monday January 25th, one day after the Patriots lost to the Broncos, Ian Rappaport announced that Bill Belichick had fired their offensive line coach after just two seasons. The previous offensive line coach had been long time assistant Dante Scarnecchia. In the prior season’s Super Bowl campaign, Dave DeGuglielmo put together a group that allowed just 21 sacks. The total was good for fourth lowest in the NFL.
In 2016 things did not go as smoothly as planned. Ryan Wendell would never play a game in 2015. Dan Connolly retired. They started out the season by placing Bryan Stork on IR. Then starting left tackle Nate Solder tore his right bicep and was out for the season. The team did not have sufficient depth at the tackle position. Vollmer, Kline, Jackson, and Mason would all miss games to injury. This season the Patriots used five left tackles, five left guards, two centers, seven right guards and five right tackles. Sebastian Vollmer was forced to switch positions from right tackle to left with the Solder injuries. In the regular season there was a total of 37 different offensive line combinations.
With all of this considered the offensive line coach was at fault? DeGuglielmo did not deserve to lose his job. Just one season earlier he coached many of the same players to the Super Bowl. DeGuglielmo is nothing more than Belichick’s ‘fall guy’. Someone had to take the blame for the downfall of the Patriots down the stretch and it just happened to be their offensive line coach. With the tremendous amount of injuries and adversity they faced throughout the season it is a wonder that they even made it to the AFC Championship. Yet Belichick took DeGuglielmo into his office and fired him.
If anything this proves to be a massive failure of their scouting and personnel department. It is obvious that they did not provide the Patriots with enough depth to make the offensive line effective in case of seasons like 2015. DeGuglielmo was not given enough tools by his head coach to get the job done.
Bill Belichick is a cold, cold man and he proves it time and time again.