Patriots Win Super Bowls with Cheap Offensive Lines

Tonight, everyone on Thursday Night Football is mentioning how young and inexperienced this Patriots offensive line is, but this is nothing new in New England as they have always had young, inexperienced and inexpensive offensive lines. As Deion Sanders and others have mentioned tonight, Tom Brady gets the ball off very quickly. These two things are correlated.


As I wrap up the first draft of Caponomics, I joked to someone that at times the entire study of Caponomics really begins to feel like a discussion of “what did Belichick and the Patriots do?” because they’re that good, they wrote the book on how to use the salary cap to your advantage. They’re so good that not only did Brady cost about 4% less than Manning, their main competitor, all these years, but the Patriots gave Brady what is still his biggest cap hit, $17.42 million in 2010, the uncapped season.

For tonight’s game though, we won’t get into anything more than this. Here are the Patriots offensive line cap percentages for their starting five in their four Super Bowl seasons:

2001: 5.09% of the cap
2003: 6.57%
2004: 4.65%
2014: 9.81%
The Super Bowl average for the 21 Super Bowl champions of the salary cap era is 11.17%, but those four Patriots teams cost only 6.53%. The first three teams are the three most inexpensive starting lines out of the champions.
What about tonight’s offensive line that they’re talking about?
LT: Vollmer 4.90%
LG: Kline 0.41%
C: Andrews 0.31%
RG: Jackson 0.39%
RT: Fleming 0.33%
This OL totals only 5.95% of the cap now that Nate Solder is out with his 3.91% cap hit as well as last year’s starter at center Bryan Stork at 0.37%.
What do we learn from the Patriots with this? We see the value of incredible position coaches like Dante Scarnecchia and Dave DeGuglielmo and the ability of a great organization to consistently find low-cost talent consistently because they have an almost perfect understanding of what they need on the offensive line (and everywhere else). That quick passing offense creates a system that has less of a need for an expensive offensive line through the strategy of mostly short, quick passes, which don’t allow the defensive line even the time to rush the QB. This really is a brilliant strategy considering how important the offensive line is in the NFL and how expensive it can become. Most expensive Super Bowl offensive line? 2013 Seahawks at 18.59% of the cap. A far cry from the insane value the Patriots clearly got tonight out of such a small figure.
Just another example of the incredible team building abilities of the regime in Foxboro.
If you like this kind of analysis, be sure to e-mail Caponomics(at)gmail(dot)com with the subject “E-MAIL LIST” to join the e-mail list and get updated when the Caponomics: Management Theories book becomes available this winter. 
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  • McGeorge

    To Brady and Belichicks credit, they have a system that allows for quick throws. Many QBs would do well with 3+ seconds. But most can’t do well with 2.1 seconds (or whatever Bradys release time is). Having a smart hall of fame QB helps out!

    • pete pisula

      Brady can get rid of the ball in 2.1 seconds because he’s almost exclusively throwing dink passes to Edelman/Welker/Amendola/Lewis, etc.

      Great system, great system QB

      • corners

        “Brady can get rid of the ball in 2.1 seconds because he’s almost
        exclusively throwing dink passes to Edelman/Welker/Amendola/Lewis, etc.”

        “To Brady and Belichicks credit, they have a system that allows for quick throws.”

        Thats what he said.

  • london27

    Fully agree with you Pete….which is why I can not understand why the Lions with an equally poor offensive line, can not run a similar system….Stafford, Johnson, Tate etc…

    • eddiea

      The Lions,imho,can’t because of Stafford. For some reason he holds the ball to long looking for HR Ball. Yes he’ll check down,but by that time oops the D got him.

      • london27

        Maybe you are right Eddie, but it is so frustrating to watch!
        I just think that the Lions Offensive Co-ordinator (Lombardi and now some bloke called Jim-Bob,) should realise that within 3-seconds the offensive line will collapse and Stafford will be sacked (Vikings + Chiefs almost every play) and accordingly create plays to nullify this. Instead you have Megatron and Tate sprinting off, offensive line closes their eyes, and whoops, Stafford is hit again.
        Bottom line, if you can’t devise the play option schemes to handle this, then recruit and invest in an offensive line. (I think only 1 or 2 teams invest less than the Lions do in those positions).

    • corners

      Staffords not coachable. He thinks he knows it all and doesn’t need changing or things pointed out he might adjust.

  • eddiea

    As much as i hate the Pats,i really envy the way the manage the cap/players. They pay well but also coach well,which negates need to overpay and increases their ability to use yng players w/o putting Brady in danger.