Success of Patriots offensive line in 2016 is rooted in consistency and continuity

January 03, 2017 - 6:50 am
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[caption id="attachment_115612" align="alignright" width="400"] The Patriots offensive line stayed remarkably healthy over the course of the 2016 regular-season. (Ron Chenoy/USA Today Sports)[/caption] Who gets the award as the Patriots' ironman for the 2016 regular season? Rookie guard Joe Thuney came awfully close, keeping his consecutive snap streak alive deep into the year. While no one went wire-to-wire, the durability of New England's offensive line was very impressive; the Patriots were fundamentally able to roll out the same five guys over the course of the season. That level of continuity and consistency played a sizable role in the fact that quarterback Tom Brady had excellent protection all year long, as well as the fact that running back LeGarrette Blount was just the fifth 1,000-yard back of the Bill Belichick Era. Here's a look at the top 10 snap counts for both sides of the ball for this past regular season. (Note: The data here is from a combination of sources, including personal press box tallies, as well as cross-checks with official NFL boxscores and Pro Football Reference.) Offense 1. LG Joe Thuney: 1,114 snaps 2. C David Andrews: 1,114 snaps 3. RT Marcus Cannon: 1,031 snaps 4. LT Nate Solder: 1,029 snaps 5. RG Shaq Mason: 1,017 snaps 6. WR Julian Edelman: 874 snaps 7. TE Martellus Bennett: 867 snaps 8. WR Chris Hogan: 829 snaps 9. QB Tom Brady: 817 snaps 10. WR Malcolm Mitchell: 538 snaps Defense 1. S Devin McCourty: 1,022 snaps 2. CB Malcolm Butler: 1,008 snaps 3. S Patrick Chung: 1,006 snaps 4. CB Logan Ryan: 897 snaps 5. LB Dont'a Hightower: 708 snaps 6. DE Chris Long: 677 snaps 7. DL Alan Branch: 626 snaps 8. DL Malcom Brown: 596 snaps 9. DL Jabaal Sheard: 579 snaps 10. DL Trey Flowers: 563 snaps