A key change that helped keep Mac Jones protected against a tough Buffalo Bills pass rush was the Patriots moving Michael Onwenu to right tackle. It paid off, as New England’s offensive line was the best it had been all season in the Patriots’ 29-25 upset win against their AFC East rival in Week 7.
Coach Bill Belichick said there were “a number of things involved” when it came to switching Onwenu from guard to tackle and added he thought it “was the best thing” for the Patriots to do.
Onwenu hadn’t played tackle since 2021 but the move immediately paid dividends. And with another AFC division game coming up in Week 8 against the Dolphins, it’s fair to wonder if Onwenu will return to the tackle position in hopes of producing the same type of results in Miami.
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The 2020 sixth-round pick admitted he was “indifferent” about playing tackle. But at the end of the day, he’s going to play where he’s told.
“I’m kind of indifferent,” he said Monday. “I’ve played the position before. So it’s just about adjusting and then going week-to-week with the team that we’re playing. Nothing specific, more so just getting the reps that I need or just getting the looks that I need in practice to feel comfortable to play there on the outside.
“I’m really just approaching it wherever I’m at. I don’t choose where I play,” he added. “At the end of the day, I’m told where I will be. We’ll just see where that happens to be.”
Having Onwenu at the right tackle position benefitted Jones in ways he wasn’t used to this year. The third-year quarterback didn’t turn the ball over and Jones was only under pressure 21.9% of the time Sunday.
“I’ve been in there with Mike at right tackle before at practice. Just great versatility,” Jones said Monday during his weekly appearance on WEEI’s “Jones & Mego With Arcand.” ” It’s not easy to do that as a lineman. I never played offensive line but I can imagine that it’s pretty difficult. … I think it shows that he’s a very versatile player, which is hard to show as a lineman. Some guys play their whole life at left tackle or right tackle. And for him to do that, that was really cool to see.”
The Patriots used their sixth different starting combination this season Sunday, and they appeared to have found a formula that works. While it’s unclear if Onwenu will start Week 8 at right tackle — despite him being indifferent — he’ll be ready to go wherever Belichick needs him.