he New England Patriots have some holes to fill in the offensive line and they may need to call on one of their “best-kept secrets” to do the job.
New England lost some key parts of their offensive line over the offseason. Shaq Mason was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Ted Karras signed with the Cincinnati Bengals as a free agent.
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This presents a great opportunity for Mike Onwenu. The offensive lineman was described by Maurice Moton as New England’s “best-kept secret.”
“Even the best offensive linemen fly under the radar because they rarely score touchdowns, so an upstart player at the position can easily go unnoticed (to the public) until the team has to decide whether to re-sign him,” Moton said.
Onwenu started all 16 games in his rookie season. Last season was a different story as Onwenu’s role was diminished. Still, in 2021 Onwenu only committed three penalties and gave up two sacks through 647 snaps, per Pro Football Focus.
One of Bill Belichick’s biggest pet peeves is mental mistakes. The fact that Onwenu committed such a small amount of penalties had to ingratiate him with the head coach.
Will Mike Onwenu Be Able to Find the Field in 2022?
Compared to last season, it should be a lot easier for Onwenu to get playing time. With Karras and Mason gone, two starting spots are up for grabs.
One of those spots is likely to go to Cole Strange. Strange was drafted in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft by the Patriots. With that level of commitment, it would not be surprising to see Strange start right away.
Onwenu’s flexibility will give Belichick some options on where to play the offensive lineman. Along with playing both guard positions, Onwenu also played right tackle.
An Important Job to Do
Onwenu and the rest of the offensive line have an important job to do in 2022.
Mac Jones is entering a crucial season. A quarterback’s second season in the NFL can be one where he takes massive leaps or fall back down to Earth.
Jones had quite a solid start to his NFL career. As a rookie, Jones threw for 3,801 yards and 22 touchdowns. Those were the most passing touchdowns of any rookie quarterback.
Jones will also need to learn a new offense as Josh McDaniels has left New England to be a head coach. With the former offensive coordinator calling plays, Jones will have a new voice in his ear during games.
Onwenu will have some help this season courtesy of some veteran players. David Andrews and Trent Brown will look to lead the way this season in terms of leadership as well as creating holes for running backs to burst through.
But Onwenu has a chance to show what he is capable of doing on the field in 2022 and show where he ranks among the rest of the guards in the NFL.
“Onwenu has a chance to showcase his skill set as one of the better pass protectors among the league’s young guards,” Moton said.