Next Pats: Scarnecchia talks offensive line, Wynn's struggles at the bye originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Despite the positive momentum overall, concerns remain on offense, and especially the offensive line.
In the latest episode of NBC Sports Boston's Next Pats Podcast, our Phil Perry talked to former Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia about many topics, including the identity of the team at the midway point of the season.
"I think they've made a concerted effort to find whatever identity offensively they feel best suits the formula it seems they've arrived at for winning games, which seems like, No. 1, play great defense," Scarnecchia said.
"They're playing great defense. The second thing is avoid turnovers at all costs. Don't give the other team any opportunities it doesn't deserve. It seems like when teams have to go a long way to score against the Patriots defense, it's hard for them, and especially when they get into the red zone."
Injuries have played a factor in the Patriots' struggles along the offensive line, but this unit also hasn't met expectations on the field. Quick improvements need to be made given the difficulty of New England's remaining schedule. The Patriots have the second-toughest schedule post-bye based on combined opponents' win percentage (.605).
"This is the NFL -- whatever amount of games they have left, they're playing a bunch of good football teams coming up, eight of them in a row that have good defenses and good players," Scarnecchia said.
"These guys need to rise to the occasion and try to improve every week and minimize mistakes. It's one thing to get beat physically, it's another thing to make a mental error and all of a sudden you have a free runner at the quarterback. It just doesn't go well when things like that happen. I suspect when they get everybody back in there, hopefully they'll run the ball a little more effectively and do a better job protecting the quarterback and build some confidence in the people around them. That's all you can ask for at this point."
Veteran tackle Isaiah Wynn is one particular offensive lineman who has not performed at a high level this season. He also leads the league with eight penalties.
What has Scarnecchia seen from watching Wynn this season?
"I really like this guy, and I have a great affinity for him because I think he's a tough guy and I think he's a smart guy, and all the rest of it," Scarnecchia said. "The penalties are always a disappointing thing. They are drive-stoppers, whether it's a holding penalty or a false start -- a lack of concentration penalty. Those don't do anyone any good. I think I heard the number eight penalties for the year, whatever it is. I think that's disappointing.
"You can minimize those things. Penalties are the product of a lack of concentration, poor judgement or lousy technique. ... I think that's all fixable. As a coach, what you do is you don't ever stand for it, not in practice, not in drills, you don't let them build bad habits in any way. I think he's a kid who's smart and he will -- he doesn't want to have penalties. He just has to concentrate on not doing it. He knows it hurts the team. He's not a selfish guy. He knows all that. He's just got to get zeroed in and not let those things happen."
Scarnecchia talked about many more Patriots topics, including Cole Strange's play as a rookie, the opposing defense knowing which plays are being called, impressions of Mac Jones in Year 2 and much more. Check out the full episode below.