The Arizona Cardinals are surprisingly not awful along the offensive line.
Something that was expected to be a weakness is not a strength in the least, but it is not the flashing red warning sign we all were bracing for.
In fact, the Cardinals offensive line has done enough to help give the Cardinals one of the best, most exciting running games in the NFL.
Things are growing in the passing game, but the way the offensive line is working in the run game is making the Cardinals offense grow at a faster rate than expected.
It also has taken the pressure off the line in the passing game because running the football allows you to control the pace of the game and keep you from falling too far behind.
The Cardinals gave up three sacks, one by Dee Ford facing off against Justin Pugh at right tackle for the first time in two seasons, one by DeForest Buckner on a missed assignment by Mason Cole, and one on a blitz that didn’t get picked up.
Only Pugh got flatout beat, while the others were missed assignments by players that have not seen much time this season.
Yet, the positives of the play on Thursday far outweighed the negative and maybe it is the right combination of players that needs to be continued moving forward.
The Cardinals decided that Pugh would move to right tackle and Mason Cole would get back into the starting lineup at left guard.
Pugh put up his best game of the season at the right tackle position, which has been an issue most of the season.
Cole was not bad and his work was as good as what Pugh has been doing.
Meaning, maybe the final eight games need to be this group as long as they are healthy.
D.J. Humphries, Mason Cole, A.Q. Shipley, J.R. Sweezy, Justin Pugh would give the Cardinals a nice group that have the ability to push things in the running game and give Murray enough time in the passing game on 90% of his drop backs.
If Murray can create time on 5% and the other 5% you just understand will happen, the Cardinals will be able to compete.
Here is the other thing, if this group plays well it gives you quite a bit of options heading into 2020.
The Cardinals can retain Shipley if they choose, they can make a substantial enough offer to Humphries that helps both sides, and the other three are under contract.
If Shipley leaves or retires, maybe you have an in-house replacement in Lamont Gaillard (if Cole plays well enough I am not moving him).
If Hump wants too much money, then maybe you can get a stopgap replacement in an Andrew Whitworth, or go for a veteran three to four year type like Anthony Costanzo who will be 32.
However, the less turnover if things playout the final seven games like they did against the 49ers, the more likely the Cardinals will see continued growth and maybe even success.