Ken Whisenhunt has never been the type of coach to want to start rookies right away. Unless there is an injury, rookie players typically ride the bench, playing in short spurts and on special situations. But with the injury to Levi Brown, Arizona has been forced to install an entirely new offensive line.
Journeyman D'Anthony Batiste was placed at left tackle, while rookie Bobby Massie, a fourth round pick of the Cardinals, is now playing on the right side. Batiste, for the most part, is what he is. He's not going to get much better. As for Massie, he has a tremendous amount of upside. With his size and frame, he has the chance to be an anchor at right tackle for the Cardinals for the next ten years.
So far, he is off to a bit of a rough start.
Pro Football Focus tracks the play of every player in the National Football League. Through the first four games, PFF claims that Massie has only had one decent start. It came against the New England Patriots in week 2.
This past week against the Dolphins was by far his worst game. He allowed five sacks, a knockdown and six hurries in just 57 pass protection snaps, according to PFF. Cameron Wake, one of the league's most premium pass rushers, recorded his first sack of the year. And then 3.5 more after that, of course.
Massie's overall grade as a pass protector so far is a -14.3, good for the 69th rated tackle in the league that has taken at least 25% of the snaps at the position. The bad news is, there are only 70 players on the list. The worst news? Batiste is number 70 at -16.8.
Massie also has a negative grade as a run blocker, but is this something we should expect to go on?
For his rookie season, I would say it is going to remain consistently subpar. That is why you typically don't see such a late round drafted tackle playing so early. Once again, he would probably be on the bench if it were not for the injury to Brown.
Massie needs stability and time along the offensive line. I still don't see the group as a cohesive unit, but that is something that takes time. His closest teammate along the line, Adam Snyder, is also new. Both of them are still figuring out how to fully adjust to the scheme that Russ Grimm is running.
That said, I don't think Massie has a worse day than he did on Sunday. Wake is graded as the best pass rusher int he league by PFF and, if Massie continues to struggle, the team will find more ways to assist him.
For now, it's all about the waiting game.