By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Isaiah Wynn has only played one full game in his NFL career, but it was a good one. The left tackle’s performance in the Patriots’ season-opening win over the Steelers showed why he has a chance to make a significant impact on the team’s beleaguered offensive line when he returns.
Even if Wynn doesn’t turn out to be an elite left tackle at the NFL level, he showed against Pittsburgh that he’s capable of playing at a high level against good competition. He will at the very least be a major upgrade over Marshall Newhouse, who (via Jeff Howe) has allowed seven sacks and 13 QB hits in nine games, mostly at left tackle.
Let’s take a deeper dive into three plays from the Steelers game where Wynn showed the kind of strength and athleticism that Newhouse simply has not.
1. Sony Michel 3-yard run
Mike that run SUCKED!!! Yes it’s only three yards, but Wynn did a good-enough job to give Sony Michel a chance at more here. Part of Michel’s struggles in his sophomore season has been a relative lack of decisiveness compared to what we saw in 2018.
The hole was there for Michel to potentially break a big gain as Wynn turned aside Steelers DE Tyson Alualu, but Michel made one extra bounce to the left as he tried to make cornerback Steven Nelson miss. Alas, he did not, and Alualu was able to shed Wynn’s block and help make the tackle with the extra half-second. But a more decisive, straight-line run likely would have made Wynn’s initial block a winning play.
2. Josh Gordon 20-yard touchdown
Ohmygodplease Mike, Gordon!? Wynn mostly matched up against Steelers stud pass rusher Bud Dupree in this game and mostly held his own. He did allow Dupree to bounce around him for one sack, but Tom Brady held onto the ball for about five seconds on the play.
On this play, Wynn stood up Dupree for more than enough time as Brady found an open Gordon over the middle of the field. Gordon did the rest. But look at how Wynn keeps his feet moving and grinds Dupree to a halt before he can get to Brady. Dupree would have had a much better time against Newhouse.
3. Sony Michel 5-yard loss
MIKE!!!!! I know, I’m putting the spotlight on a 5-yard loss to show why Wynn played well. What am I some kind of lunatic? Well, yes. But Wynn is one of the only guys who did his job on this play. It’s worth noting that by the time the Pats called this stretch run to the left, they had Jermaine Eluemunor playing left guard after Joe Thuney had to make an emergency switch to right tackle.
Eluemunor decidedly did not execute his assignment here, but just watch Wynn get to the second level with speed and manhandle Steelers LB Vince Williams, who is no slouch himself. The play is blown up because Eluemunor gets straight-up beat by the severely more talented Cameron Heyward, and James Devlin’s cut block on Dupree doesn’t quite get the job done. With better blocking on either side of Wynn, this play would’ve had a chance to be much more successful.
Conclusion? Wynn will provide a marked boost at left tackle. Whether the rest of the offense does its job is certainly in question. But he’s at least part of the reason that the Steelers game was arguably the best the offense has looked all season, and why Wynn was a first-round pick in the first place, and all that fun stuff.
The only question for Wynn, now, is whether he can stay on the field once and for all. That’s perhaps the only question for him. His talent is not.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.