The Arizona Cardinals offensive line has been nothing short of awful in pass protection allowing the second-most quarterback hits (70) in the NFL, trailing only the Houston Texans. This team has dealt with a number of injuries, losing center A.Q. Shipley and swing tackle John Wetzel for the season. It just keeps getting worse after starting right guard Justin Pugh was placed on injury reserve, effectively ending his season.
Now we don’t know the extent of Mike Iupati’s back problems but even if he returns this week, his injury will still linger on through the remainder of the season. His struggles in pass protection is evident throughout his career and his replacement this past weekend in Jeremy Vujnovich wasn’t much better.
Starting right tackle Andre Smith allowed six pressures and was flagged three times in the loss against the Chiefs. But he has been an effective run blocker to say the least.
T Andre Smith allowed 6 pressures (3 hurries, 2 hits, 1 sack). Also, committed 3 penalties.— PFF ARZ Cardinals (@PFF_Cardinals) November 12, 2018
Earned a 79.5 run blocking grade, so not all bad
Smith can be praised for his good run-blocking ability but if he can’t protect the quarterback, then a lot of criticism will continue to go his way.
He does has the build of an offensive guard (6-4 330lbs) and the Cardinals have their athletic 2018 seventh-round pick Korey Cunningham (6-6 305lbs) waiting in the wings. It would be wise for the Cardinals to move Smith to right guard even with his limited experience playing the position.
With the Cardinals 2018 playoff chances gone, they might as well see what they have in Cunningham at right tackle. Here’s an interesting fact: he allowed zero sacks in his senior season at University of Cincinnati.
The same problems can be said about D.J. Humphries, who has yet to prove that he can be a reliable starting left tackle with his inconsistencies in pass protection.
Both D.J. Humphries and Andre Smith have been solid in the running this season. Both have run blocking grades over 70.0 and rank in the top 16 tackles in run blocking— PFF ARZ Cardinals (@PFF_Cardinals) November 12, 2018
Maybe offensive line coach Ray Brown has left his mark on the team. Humphries and Smith have been good run blockers. Unfortunately none of their offensive linemen have been consistently good in pass protection.
It’s good to see the Byron Leftwich effect at its finest, after David Johnson had two of his best performances of the season the past two games (157 rushing yards, 126 receiving yards).
#AZCardinals run blocking has improved significantly the last couple of weeks— PFF ARZ Cardinals (@PFF_Cardinals) November 12, 2018
Weeks 8-10: 69.8 run block grade (5th best)
Weeks 1-7: 50.1 run block grade (30th)
Josh Rosen is the franchise quarterback of the Arizona Cardinals and he is getting tackled and hit at almost every turn. There’s no question that they must assess and address the entire offensive line in 2019. But for now, they must work with the players they have and try to put Rosen in the best position to succeed.