Going into this year, perhaps the biggest offseason acquisition was the return of Dante Scarnecchia as the offensive line coach. After all, ever since he left, the Patriots have gone from solid along the offensive line to very inconsistent, which resulted in their most important asset on the team, Tom Brady, getting destroyed in the AFC Championship game last year in Denver.
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There can be no doubt that Dante Scarnecchia has given the team a huge boost. However, one coach that needs to be recognized is Moses Cabrera. Moses Cabrera is the head strength and conditioning coach and his work this year has been outstanding. One could even say his work has been as important as Scar’s, or at least close to it.
Moses Cabrera has worked hard to get the players to stay out of the training room and on the field and the results have been exactly what you hope for out of your team. The Patriots have the fewest players on injured reserve in the NFL with just three players (Sebastian Vollmer and Tre Jackson are not on IR as they were never removed from the PUP list). The three players are led by of course Rob Gronkowski, but also includes linebacker Jonathan Freeny and tight end Greg Scruggs.
Last year, on the other hand, the Patriots had 14 players end the year on injured reserve including Tarell Brown, Dominique Easley, Dion Lewis, James Develin, Aaron Dobson, LeGarrette Blount and Trey Flowers. That doesn’t even include injuries during the year to Julian Edelman, Gronk, Jamie Collins, Marcus Cannon, Sebastian Vollmer, Dont’a Hightower, Chandler Jones and Jabaal Sheard which caused them to each miss at least one game.
By comparison, this year they are as healthy as can be going into the playoffs with very few players in doubt of playing. In last year’s AFC Championship game, the Patriots entered with 15 players questionable and five probable, giving them 20 on the injury report. In Week 17 the Patriots had just seven players on the injury report, of which just three didn’t suit up and were eventually ruled out. Furthermore two of those players, Danny Amendola and Malcolm Mitchell, look to have a chance to play in the playoffs and were held out as a precaution.
The Patriots are a team and clearly Dante Scarnecchia has brought the offensive line forward as a unit giving the New England their best offensive line since the Matt Light, Logan Mankins and Dan Koppen days but without the improved work of Moses Cabrera, it is possible some do not even see the field, and it is about time he is given the credit he is due because their health could very well be a decisive edge in the playoffs.