Why #Patriots Nation Already Loves Joe Thuney

When the Patriots drafted rookie interior offensive lineman Joe Thuney last May there was some criticism for the fact that the team didn’t take an offensive tackle.

With injuries to starting left tackle Nate Solder and the decline in play of starting right tackle Sebastian Vollmer, finding a replacement at tackle or at least some better depth seemed like a necessity.

However, now that we have watched two full preseason games of Thuney, and see how high the team is on him already (starting left guard), now is a good time to assess the hype.

(For those that don’t know identify Thuney as #62, or the left guard).

Run Blocking

 

This is a typical blocking assignment for Thuney on a delayed draw. He gets a little help from David Andrews on a chip, but mostly this is all Thuney pushing his man five yards past the line of scrimmage. Thuney opens a huge whole, and Bolden runs right behind him. We saw the Patriots frequently run behind Thuney against the Bears.

 

I put this one in slow-mo in order to make it easier to see what Thuney does. First, Thuney down blocks on the nose tackle and then gets to the second level to block the linebacker in the hole. Thuney was a weapon in the run game vs Chicago, a lead blocker on many run plays, and showed the ability to get to that next level covering up the linebacker. That’s key for eventually breaking bigger runs.

Pass Blocking

On this play Thuney is in basic pass protection on Bears defensive lineman Ego Ferguson. Note how little forward progress Thuney gives Ferguson compared to the other Patriots offensive lineman (he’s a good 2-3 yards upfield!). One thing that stands out while watching Thuney, other than his athleticism, is his strength and balance. Ferguson is 6-2, 300 pounds but Thuney doesn’t give up any ground, and you can see how strong his base is.

This may be my personal favorite. There are so many things to like about what Thuney does on this play. In fact, the play goes for big yardage mainly because of Thuney. Bears d-lineman Will Sutton has a chance to make a play on White in the backfield, but White does a good job breaking the tackle. Thuney, never disengages from his block, and he pushes Bears linebacker John Timu out of the cut back lane allowing White to take off downfield. Thuney shows great technique to not get called for a block in the back and by playing through the whistle he springs White. Belichick will love seeing that kind of motor from Thuney.

Here’s Thuney playing a role in the protection on another big play. This time the long completion to Chris Hogan. Thuney originally blocks DE Will Sutton and stands him up at the line, but late in the play he’s forced to switch with Bryan Stork onto rookie DT Jonathan Bullard. Thuney handles the switch with ease, and good blocking by the interior of the Pats O-Line gives Garoppolo a spot to step into to make the throw. Thuney had Sutton blocked, and switched easily to Bullard, that’s not something that’s necessarily automatic as a rookie.

What we saw from Joe Thuney last Thursday night is that he’s well ahead of where Shaq Mason and Tre’ Jackson were a year ago.

His technique, strength, balance, and football I.Q. are all beyond where a typical rookie third round pick should be.

Based on how he has played in training camp and the first two preseason games, it appears the Patriots may not have just a starter, but an impact offensive lineman in Joe Thuney.