Heath Evans: Don't forget interior OL

March, 4, 2014
Mar 4
9:45
AM ET
Former Patriots fullback Heath Evans, who now serves as a football analyst on NFL Network, shared his viewpoint on areas in which the team most needs improvement in 2014. Evans' thoughts came as part of NFL.com's "offseason forecast" on the team.

“If there is one scary thing going into the season -- Dante Scarnecchia, the offensive line coach, is hands down one of the best in the business and they're losing him to retirement," Evans said.

"With [Tom] Brady, the key to success, you have to find ways to protect him [and] keep him upright. [Do that and] you won’t be in the playoff hunt, you’ll be in the Super Bowl hunt."

In making his point, Evans noted that the Patriots have tackles that they like in Nate Solder (left) and Sebastian Vollmer (right), as well as a top left guard in Logan Mankins. Evans noted that center Ryan Wendell is a free agent and touched on the status of right guard Dan Connolly (due to earn $3 million in base salary).

Meanwhile, former Patriot Willie McGinest looked to the other side of the ball.

"I think they need some help on the defensive line, on the front," he said. "If you watched the AFC Championship, they were not able to get pressure on Peyton Manning."

The "offseason forecast" is broken down into five categories:

1. What's changing
2. Biggest free agents
3. What they need
4. On the way out?
5. Offseason crystal ball

"This Patriots offseason lacks the drama of a departing coordinator or a big contract dispute," writes NFL.com Around the League editor Gregg Rosenthal. "It's more about re-loading to take advantage of a roster that has earned playoff byes in four consecutive seasons without a title to show for it."

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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