If you have been an Arizona Cardinals fan for any length of time, you will expect one thing -- the offensive line will be bad. It has been an issue for the Cardinals almost every season since coming to Arizona.
But this season is different. The offensive line has played very well, at least in pass protection.
The line has had its issues, but one of the biggest jobs the offensive line has is to protect the quarterback. They have done just that.
In 2014, the Cardinals have given up a total of 22 sacks on the season. As Cardinals media relations coordinator Mike Helm noted, that is the fifth lowest total in the entire league. And this is with four different quarterbacks having played this season.
A season ago, through 13 games, the offensive line gave up 38 sacks, which was 18th in the league. And who can forget 2012 when they gave up 58 sacks?
So, while there have been debates about the interior line and the play of Paul Fanaika, Ted Larsen and Lyle Sendlein, everyone on that line has done their job in pass protection.
A big reason why is the play of left tackle Jared Veldheer. You will love this stat:
Since Week 7, Jared Veldheer has not allowed a single sack or hit, and has allowed just eight hurries. Is third-best for all tackles. @pff— Mike Jurecki (@mikejurecki) December 15, 2014
After years of Bradley Sowell, Levi Brown and Leonard Davis, Veldheer has really been a difference maker. No longer do the Cardinals or fans have to worry about the quarterback's blind side. He might be the best left tackle the Cardinals have seen since coming to Arizona. Louis Sharpe was good and Lomas Brown was fantastic, albeit ancient, when he was here, but Veldheer is already up there. And they have him signed for four more years!
There have been issues in the running game this season, but that has been in part because of the play and injuries of Andre Ellington. With Kerwynn Williams and the insertion of Jonathan Cooper into the starting lineup, the running game is solid.
But when it comes to protecting the quarterback (or quarterbacks when you talk about the Cardinals), this might be the best unit we have seen.
How surprised have you been with the play of the offensive line in 2014?