The San Diego Chargers brought pressure off the edge with the likes of outside linebackers Melvin Ingram and Dwight Freeney on Sunday. And it was up to New England Patriots left tackle to stop them over the course of the offense’s 78 snaps.
On three occasions, Solder was unable to do so as San Diego’s pass-rushers generated one hurry, one quarterback hit and one sack via his vicinity, according to Pro Football Focus. Yet Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels backed the former first-round pick in his conference call with the media on Tuesday.
“I think both of our tackles have been playing increasingly better as the year has gone on and I’m really happy with what they’ve been able to do,” McDaniels said. “Certainly, they have to block a lot of marquee players on the edge that their job is to sack the quarterback. Our tackles have to do a great job of protecting the spot for Tom [Brady] to be able to step up and throw. It’s a great challenge every week. San Diego was no different.”
By the time New England had won the Week 14 matchup, the 6-foot-2, 255-pound Ingram had notched six tackles, a pass breakup and a sack. The 6-foot-1, 268-pound Freeney, meanwhile, had accrued a pair of hurries and a hit on Brady
But McDaniels focused on the whole body of work that Solder and right tackle Sebastian Vollmer put together, despite the various techniques the Chargers implemented to bypass them.
“Ingram and Freeney and Jarret Johnson and the guys that they were dealing with there have great motors, different styles of rushers. And I would say in terms of overall technique, that’s a position where, depending on who the rusher is, you may approach it a little differently.”
Solder had to adapt to the diversity in San Diego’s defensive front, which featured a mixture of bull rush and spin moves. There were a sequence of plays that left the Colorado product on the grass; however, New England’s collective offense was able to gain ground after a slow start.
“I thought Nate did a good job of responding,” McDaniels added. “The guy made a play on us on the first drive, and like I said, there are going to be times where that happens.”
From the first drive through the final drive, McDaniels noted that the pass protection hinged on the designed timing of the play itself.
“We have to do a good job of trying to get the ball out on time,” he said. “We can’t hold the ball for six seconds on every pass, and we don’t try to do that anyways. It’s a constant battle. You’ve got to be good with your hands, you’ve got to be good with your leverage, you’ve got to be on balance and try to take the guy inside out.”