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Patriots break the mold with offensive line rotation

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The Patriots can't settle on an offensive line. And that's by design.

The team has been rotating their line on the interior to a rare degree in professional football, and it's working out quite well. The Boston Herald broke down the rotation, primarily at guard, in an intriguing article this week.

Every game, all season

The Patriots didn't use the same offensive line for two consecutive drives in their entire 50-point game against the Jaguars. They didn't use the same offensive line for the first seven drives of the season opener. In Buffalo, they used the same group for three straight series for the only time all season.

This flies in the face of conventional wisdom for offensive line play, where continuity is prized above all. The Patriots have three rookies on the interior of their offensive line, and they feel like it's advantageous to give them rest and have coaching sessions during the game on the sideline.

"It's not done just randomly. There's a specific reason why we rotate guys when we do, where we rotate them," Patriots offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo told the Boston Herald. "There's a rhyme and reason to everything."

Florida State offensive line coach Rick Trickett, who coached Patriots' Bryan Stork and Tre Jackson at Florida State, said it's "one of the smartest things" he's ever seen. But it's not necessarily a new development for the Patriots. They rotated the offensive line significantly early last season until they found a group that worked.

It's part of an ethos in New England that other teams surprisingly don't copy. Coach Bill Belichick annually tinkers with his lineup on both sides of the ball early in the season. He spends the first four to six games figuring out what type of team he has, and then starts focusing more on what they do well. Perhaps, other teams don't have the luxury (Tom Brady) to experiment, but it's not like Belichick isn't trying to win each game. He's just got another eye on the long term. He knows that titles aren't won in September.

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