Patriots ’20 Questions: Will loss of Dante Scarnecchia be noticeable?

Andy Hart and Ryan Hannable
June 30, 2020 - 11:59 am
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The Patriots are in the midst of the most interesting, important offseason in more than two decades. Tom Brady moved on to Tampa Bay. Bill Belichick remains in place with a veteran roster. There are plenty of questions and even more plentiful opinions regarding the defending AFC East champions. Over the next few weeks WEEI.com will ask and offer up answers to 20 of the most critical questions facing the 2020 Patriots.

Today’s question: Will the loss of legendary offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia be noticeable?

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Hannable: Of course it will be noticeable, but how much is the bigger question?

Fortunately, the group has five starters with plenty of experience in the system and if they all stay healthy have the potential to be one of the best offensive lines in football. Now, if things do not work out as planned and some backups for forced into starting roles, that is where his absence will be seen. For as much as Cole Popovich and Carmen Bricillo were able to learn over the last few years, you'd much rather have Scarnecchia, one of the best assistant coaches in the history of the NFL, working with second-year players Yodny Cajuste and Hjalte Froholdt.

If the group doesn't have any major injuries and all five projected starters are there Week 1, the loss might not really be noticed. But, if that doesn't happen and things go wrong, that is when his loss will truly be felt.

Hart: Is this a joke? Of course losing arguably the greatest line coach in the history of the NFL is going to be noticeable. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean the Patriots offensive line is going to stink or be a weakness in 2020. Actually, based on the financial and draft-pick investment, as well as the unit’s new-found health, the line should be the strength of the new-look offense this fall.

How that talent evolves into execution, though, is where the loss of Scarnecchia will be felt. Regardless of who is under center, there is going to be a more athletic quarterback on the field. Plays may take longer but also stay alive longer. That puts pressure on the line. There could be a renewed but different focus on the running game. There will also almost certainly be some injuries and adjustments to make along the way. Scarnecchia would have made those perfectly.

He also would have gotten the benefit of the doubt from both the fans and his boss, Bill Belichick. Cole Popovich and Carmen Bricillo won’t get the same luxury. It may be difficult to assess just how much Scarnecchia’s retirement adversely affects the Patriots, but it certainly will. There is no way that it can’t.

Related: Randy Moss: Patriots offense will be more fun with Cam Newton than Tom Brady