The ups and downs of the Arizona Cardinals offensive line have been well documented around these here interwebs. Both in pass and run blocking, the 5-man unit played subpar through the first five games of the season, partly due to pieces of the line being swapped in and out because of injury.
This past Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, that all changed.
Adrian Peterson came out of the win over Tampa as the one receiving all of the hype (and rightfully so, to an extent), but it was the improvement and return to health of the offensive line that truly shined the brightest.
D.J. Humphries and Alex Boone both returned from injury to man the left side of the line and Earl Watford took the place of Evan Boehm at right guard. These moves helped spring newest Cardinal Adrian Peterson to a greater than 5 yards per carry average. Up until Sunday’s game, the team was rushing for about half that per attempt.
Steve Keim mentioned on his weekly radio segment with Arizona Sports 98.7 FM that the offensive line was easily the best he has seen all season, giving high praise to both Humphries and Boone.
Well, for the first time this year, in my opinion, we saw five guys up front playing in unison. Not only the combination blocks, the deuce blocks, passing off games and stunts — those guys I thought played very, very well up front. Again, particularly the two on the left side. I thought D.J. was excellent. We’ve always known he can run-block. His ability to roll his hips and finish at the point of attack is something to me that sets him apart from a lot of other tackles. Him and Alex on several of those deuce blocks, they created five and six yards of run lanes for Adrian just because of the point-of-attack movement they created.
It should also be mentioned that Carson Palmer only fell victim to two sacks on Sunday, which, believe it or not, was an improvement. He still took some unnecessary hits throughout the day, but that was to be somewhat expected with two guys shaking off a bit of rust.
All in all, the offensive line gave us a lot to be hopeful for. We finally saw push in the run game outside of what the running back was asked to create on his own and Palmer was able to stay upright long enough to complete some of Bruce Arians’ patented deep passes.
If the team can keep up that level of play up front, they may still have a chance at competing for the division after all.