Bill Belichick gives more context to key Patriots personnel switch in win over Bills

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It seems the Patriots finally found an offensive line combination capable of keeping Mac Jones upright and allowing him time to make plays.

It took moving Mike Onwenu from his natural position of right guard over to tackle in Sunday’s win over the Bills, and head coach Bill Belichick provided more detail on the decision Monday morning.

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“There were a number of things involved but had a good conversation with Mike after the Raider game and ultimately I think everyone thought that was the best thing for us to do at this time,” Belichick said. “Went with it, had a good week. I thought he did a good job for us.”

The Patriots have had something of a revolving door at right tackle since the spring. Free-agent addition Riley Reiff was the first option to play at right tackle, but he moved to guard during the spring before a knee injury landed him on injured reserve before the season. He played one game in Week 5 before being placed back on injured reserve.

Conor McDermott was next in line for right tackle snaps, but he also suffered an injury during the summer. He was released with an injury settlement but is back with the team on the practice squad now. Rookie Sidy Sow then received snaps at right tackle this summer, but he’s been moved back to his college position of guard, where he started at Onwenu’s old post on the right side Sunday. The Patriots began the season with Calvin Anderson at right tackle, but he was benched after two games. Then Vederian Lowe, who was acquired via trade before the season, started the next four games at right tackle but struggled.

Prior to Sunday’s win over the Bills, Onwenu had only played right guard for the Patriots this season. He had previously thrived at right tackle but hadn’t lined up at the position in a regular season game since 2021, when he played left guard, right guard and right tackle. He also played all three positions as a rookie in 2020.

“Smart kid that understands all the different positions on the offensive line,” Belichick said Monday. “Pretty good fundamental player and obviously has good strength.”

Now the biggest question is whether Onwenu will start at right tackle or if the team will move him back to right guard and have McDermott play right tackle.

The Patriots’ offensive line held up better in Sunday’s game than they had all season, so it seems worth sticking with Trent Brown at left tackle, Cole Strange at left guard, David Andrews at center, Sow at right guard and Onwenu at right tackle.

Strange, who appears to have bulked up while recovering from a knee injury, returned and played well Sunday.

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