The Arizona Cardinals' offensive line has struggled in both run blocking and pass protection during their last few games. Seventeen of their league-worst 23 sacks allowed have come during the last two contests.
ESPN NFL analyst Ron Jaworski spoke with Arizona Sports 620's Burns and Gambo on Thursday to give his take on what he thinks has gone wrong.
"You have to stay on schedule. In other words stay out of those known passing situations and stay in a manageable third down," said Jaworski. "Those have always been the keys in football. The defense gets the upper hand when they know you have to throw the football, when they know you become one-dimensional."
According to ESPN NFC West blogger Mike Sando, the Cardinals have given up 17 of their 23 sacks while they have trailed their opponents. They are allowing sacks on 13.6 percent of their passing plays when behind, which is more than twice the average percentage of all the other teams in the NFL.
"When you can't run the football for four plus yards on first down and you get in those known passing situations and now you see the plethora of hybrid looks," said Jaworski. "The nickels, the dimes, the amoeba coverages, the radar defenses, all of these things are designed to not only break down the quarterbacks thought process but to break down the offensive line and the running backs' and the tight ends' protection scheme."
When the Cardinals are forced to throw the ball late in the game, the offensive line seems to fall apart. This became apparent in the Cardinals' Week 4 overtime win against the Miami Dolphins. Trailing late in the game, the Cardinals allowed five of their eight sacks in the fourth quarter. Similarly, the Cardinals allowed nine sacks against the St. Louis Rams last Thursday, with seven of them coming when Kolb started in shotgun.
"The accumulations of all these things lead to the performance of the last couple games," said Jaworksi. "Too often in the known passing situations you can tee off on the offensive line and then ultimately the quarterback."