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Cardinals’ Poor PFF Offensive Line Grades: A Rebuttal

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Arizona Cardinals v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

PFF’s offensive line grades are generally lower and more heavily scrutinized than other positions. Part of the problem is that their evaluators do not know for certain what the team’s blocking assignments are for each play. They can make some assumptions based on generally practiced blocking rules, but what they may not know, for example, is whether a G or C is assigned a reach block on the play---and reach blocks are very much in vogue these days. But often times, the G or C needs to scrap his reach block assignment if his play side gap is being blitzed---or of there is a twist stunt and thus a switch needs to be made.

Offensive line play is so nuanced (with changes made on the fly) that it would be difficult for PFF to achieve the kind of accurate grades that the teams themselves would be able to assess knowing the play call, the prescribed assignments and switch rules versus blitzes and stunts.

I agree with many of you that the Cardinals’ offensive line has been pretty solid, especially based on the fact that they have matched up against 3 of the best defensive lines in the NFL---AND---that the Cardinals’ play calling has been ultra conservative to the point where the defenses can load up the box and feel like all they have to defend is a 20 yard box. The Cardinals have to start backing defenses off---and let’s face it---they also haven’t shown that they can keep hard rushing defenses honest by executing good screen and draw plays---plus, they have not posed a scrambling and escape threat at the QB position.

As Seth points out, the Cardinals’ offensive line have one of the highest run blocking grades—-but how can that be? Typically they have been blocking against staked boxes and teams are run blitzing when they see running formations. Under the circumstances, the Cardinals’ offensive line has stood up fairly well—-but—-here again—-even when the grades are in the Cardinals’ favor—-the reality is that the Cardinals’ rushing attack has yet to get on track—-partly due to predictable and conservative play calling, but also partly due to the team having to play so often from behind.

From this fan’s perspective—-I would give the unit a B- overall after 3 weeks, especially based on the quality of the opponents. The individual grades are as follows:

LT D.J. Humphries——run blocking: B; pass blocking: C+ (overall grade: B-)

LG Mike Iupati—-run blocking: B-; pass blocking: C- (overall grade: C)

C Mason Cole—-run blocking: B-; pass blocking: B (overall grade: B)

RG Justin Pugh—-run blocking: B-; pass blocking: C+ (overall grade: B-)

RT John Wetzel—-run blocking: B-; pass blocking: A- (overall grade: B+)

I think that Ray Brown is doing a commendable job—-and now with a more mobile QB as the starter, who can do a better job of keeping defenses somewhat off-balance—-the offensive line could start to get into a groove. It will help their cause too to have Jermaine Gresham back as the blocking TE. Perhaps FB Derrick Coleman will be used more in the games ahead. Moreover, the Cardinals need to get better pass pro blocking from their RBs—-which also stands as one of the reasons why the unit’s PFF grade is low.

How often are we hearing that a RB missed his block? Enough already. Josh Rosen said yesterday in his press conference that the RBs and Chase Edmonds in particular have been nailing down the blocking assignments big-time this week.

Let’s just make sure that David Johnson isn’t being tutored on the sideline with a close game on the line.