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I know that may sound like the perfect name for a “Guns and Roses” tribute band but OL Marcus Cannon and DL Trey Flowers are two of the main reasons a personnel-challenged New England Patriots stand 12-2, headed for a run at yet another Super Bowl appearance. Let’s face it, if you knew last Spring, that the Pats would be without Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Jamie Collins, Chandler Jones, and Rob Ninkovich for extended stretches of games this year, you’d have thought they’d be lucky to be .500. Playoff contenders possibly, but a number one seed, never. But one of the main reasons that they have been able to stay on top of their game as been the return of the 68 year old veteran offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, talked out of retirement after two years away.

 

“Scar” has a coaching career of 44 years, with 33 in the NFL, and 31 of those with the New England Patriots, brought here originally, according to the official Pats bio, by Ron Meyer. Of those 31 years with New England, 16 of them have been as the offensive line coach, with 2009 being a highlight year, as the line allowed only 18 sacks, the fewest the team allowed in a 16-game schedule. Compare that to last year’s AFC Championship game in Denver when Tom Brady was rushed, sacked, and/or hit something in the neighborhood of 25 times. Obviously if Brady was going to survive to play into his mid-forties, something had to be done. That something was to lure Scarnecchia out of retirement and have him shape up the line, and in particular, Marcus Cannon.

 

The 6’5″, 335 pound 28-year-old Cannon had displayed a fair amount of versatility, moving form tackle to guard and back again, but no consistency. This year Cannon, in his 6th season out of Texas Christian, has been installed at the right tackle position, replacing the injured Sebastian Vollmer. With Scar’s coaching, he has improved his technique to the point where he was credited with pretty much neutralizing LB Von Miller in their recent 16-3 victory in the Mile High City. Miller did have five tackles, but never got with hailing distance of number 12.

 

On the defensive side of things, second year lineman, Trey Flowers played a key role in the win, as he was credited with two sacks, running his team leading total to seven. Flowers, at 6’2′, 265, is in his second year out of Arkansas, is considered to be in the Rob Ninkovish mold as someone who can put his hand on the ground as a pass rusher, or fall back into coverage, while still being effective at stopping the run. Clearly something the coaching staff had in mind when they traded Chandler Jones to Arizona, last year.

 

THREE ACTS OF EXTREME RANDOMNESS:

 

Act 1: You wouldn’t think that Pats fans would have to put up with any self-righteousness coming from Giants fans after the last several months. Between kicker Josh Brown abusing his wife in front of their kids, and then only receiving a one-game suspension; their allegations that Pittsburgh deflated game balls ignoring the fact that the cold temperatures caused it, then being fined for illegal use of walkie-talkies, the Mara Family has lost some of their glow. What’s tough to take is that they’ve barely been punished for things other teams have faced suspensions and lost draft picks for. Gotta love Roger.

 

ACT II: Recently fired Rams coach Jeff Fisher only had 6 winning seasons in his 22-year career. That’s amazing.

 

INTERMISSION: Last month, my youngest daughter Andrea, completed the New York City Marathon. She is the third family member to have completed a marathon. Among us, we have 16, including 6 Bostons.

 

ACT III: In 17 seasons, Tom Brady has been regular season MVP only twice. How is that possible? I guess he’ll just have to comfort himself with his rings.

Jerry Ballgame

About Jerry Ballgame

The personification of "old school", Jerry Ballgame was born in the shadow of Dr. Naismith's peach basket, and baptized in that "Dirty Water." Designated by his "Uncle" Ted, to keep an eye on things, he's here to tell everyone what his view is like from the Hub of the Universe.

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