Phil Perry

No messing around: ‘Fiery' Adrian Klemm already demanding of Patriots linemen

The Patriots' new offensive line coach has an important task in front of him.

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FOXBORO -- For all the attention placed on the struggles experienced by quarterback Mac Jones and the coaching staff that surrounded him last season, there were just as many issues with the coaching of and performance by New England's offensive line.

Perhaps not coincidentally, both the line coaching and the overall coordination of the offense last season was left to Matt Patricia, who hadn't functioned in either one of those roles previously. Spread thin, Patricia eventually gave the majority of the offensive line coaching duties to o-line assistant Billy Yates.

Even after that hand-off, the Patriots struggled in a number of facets up front. 

According to Sharp Football, Patriots backs found at least 3.0 yards before contact on just 20 percent of carries, which was 29th in the NFL. They were 29th in success rate on runs into both seven and eight-man boxes. They were 25th in EPA per rush and in non-quarterback-scramble success rate. Additionally, the Patriots were 28th in early-down success rate running the football, and they were last in the league in EPA per play on early downs inside the red zone.

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Any success the Patriots experienced on the ground was due in large part to running back Rhamondre Stevenson's work after contact; the team ranked fifth in the NFL in average yards per carry after contact (3.15). 

Outside of a few changes to their personnel -- they lost running back Damien Harris and free-agent addition Riley Reiff could be slotted in at right tackle -- how will they improve on those rankings in 2023? 

The addition of Adrian Klemm should help. The new offensive line coach, David Andrews told reporters Tuesday, has already shown that he'll be holding players accountable when they screw up.

"I think he's very passionate," Andrews said. "He's very fiery. He's been demanding of guys. I think that's important. As a player, that's what you want. You don't want someone saying, 'That's all right.' 

"You gotta be told when you're wrong. I believe in that. I believe in that in life, in everything. It's not just OK. Things can't just be OK. There's always gotta be room for improvement." 

That also should apply to penalties, where the Patriots consistently shot themselves in the foot along the offensive line last season. As a team, they had the seventh-highest penalty count per game (tied with Carolina). They had a negative net penalty yards per game figure for the second straight season when, per Sharp Football, that's something they have done only four times total since 2010.

Contributing to those ghastly figures? The big men in the trenches, where Trent Brown was tied for the third-most flags (13) in football. Isaiah Wynn, now with the Dolphins, had nine penalties called on him in just nine games. 

It'll be critical for Klemm, a former Patriots lineman himself who played under longtime line coach Dante Scarnecchia, to teach them how to eliminate those types of mistakes. As Bill Belichick and his staffers have long said, you first must understand how not to lose games before you can win 'em. 

Andrews knows that when that message inevitably needs to make its way from Klemm to his players, the new line coach won't hesitate to send it. With authority.

"Someone in that position who's a teacher and a coach," Andrews said, "you gotta tell guys when they're wrong. He does a good job of that and pointing that out."

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