The Arizona Cardinals have one problem coming into their Monday Night Football matchup with the New York Jets.
They will likely being starting Earl Watford and John Wetzel at the guard positions against maybe the best defensive line in the NFL.
Muhammad Wilkerson, Leonard Williams and Sheldon Richardson (when he lines up along the defensive line) may be the best triumvirate of lineman in the NFL.
Through the first give games, the Arizona Cardinals offensive line has been… Not quite as good as expected, from Pro Football Focus:
18. Arizona Cardinals (9)
Starters: LT Jared Veldheer, LG Mike Iupati, C A.Q. Shipley, RG Evan Mathis, RT D.J. Humphries
The Cardinals’ O-line is better with a healthy Evan Mathis in the lineup, but he has missed time hurt this year and has been a little under full fitness when actually on the field. Returning to face Aaron Donald certainly didn’t help, either. Mike Iupati has been the unit’s best performer, moving people around in the run game as you would expect, but allowing no hits or sacks across 192 pass-blocking snaps. D.J. Humphries has allowed four sacks and 12 total pressures, and has been a relative weak link when pass blocking at RT, but has not been disastrous overall.
Now, with Mike Iupati recovering from a sprained ankle and Evan Mathis possibly done for the season, the Arizona Cardinals will be leaning on youth at the two guard positions.
John Wetzel, in his first extended time in the NFL at guard, looked strong, and we have seen Earl Watford do a good job before, but the Cardinals offensive line is coming off perhaps their best game of the 2016 season. Yes, it was against the San Francisco 49ers not so good defense, but you have to start somewhere.
Now, the Arizona Cardinals need their backups to repeat that performance on Monday Night Football, against one of the more dominant defensive lines in the NFL.
It is never easy in the NFL, but they can definitely do it.