Counting down the most important Patriots players heading into the 2022 NFL season.
Methodology: taking a concept from veteran NFL reporter Dave Dameshek, the most important Patriots series is like a giant game of Jenga. If we were to pull this player from New England’s lineup, who would cause the tower to fall completely or become unsteady the most?
Most Important Patriots: No. 3, OT Trent Brown
The numbers speak for themselves when it comes to Trent Brown’s importance to the Patriots’ offense last season, and now he’ll likely flip over to protect Mac Jones’s blind side at left tackle.
According to Sports Info Solutions, New England was a different offense when Brown was healthy a year ago, posting 0.11 expected points added with Brown compared to -0.01 EPA per play without Brown on the field.
Unfortunately, Brown only played in nine regular-season games due to a lingering calf injury he suffered in the season-opener against the Miami Dolphins. Still, upon his return in Week 10, the Patriots offense was at its best with the hulking tackle elevating the offensive line.
(#77 at right tackle)
With Brown’s size and playing strength, he’s a people-moving force in the running game. Brown worked terrific combination blocks with former Pats right guard Shaq Mason, and New England often ran behind Brown in short-yardage situations.
The veteran offensive tackle only allowed one sack on 282 pass-blocking snaps last season, ranking 13th among 70 qualified tackles in Pro Football Focus’s pass-blocking efficiency metric.
Brown uses his size to his advantage in pass protection by catching pass-rushers after setting to his landmarks. He relies on his stout anchor, knowing it’ll be difficult for pass-rushers to bull-rush through him to the quarterback, eclipsing the quarterback in the pocket.
(#77 at right tackle)
Although you wouldn’t expect it after looking at the 6-foot-8, 380-pound tackle, Brown is also incredibly light on his feet and athletic in space as a blocker on the move for the Patriots.
Despite his recent injury history, New England signed Brown to a two-year contract as a free agent this offseason and is at least toying with the idea of him playing left tackle this season.
As the Patriots rework their offensive line in other spots, the hope is that Brown’s return to the left side will bring out the player we saw during New England’s run to a Super Bowl title in 2018 while stabilizing things for rookie left guard Cole Strange.
A lot is riding on Brown staying healthy to anchor the new-look offensive line, which makes him incredibly important to the big-picture outlook for the Patriots this season.