It’s prediction time, and yours truly was asked to give his thoughts on how the Arizona Cardinals will fare this season.
A couple months ago it would have been a difficult question to answer.
After all, what do you make of a team boasting an elite defense, excellent group of receivers and a stable of quality running backs? Yeah, their situation at quarterback was uncertain, but there was no chance either Kevin Kolb or John Skelton would be any worse than last season, when they combined to guide the Cardinals to seven wins in their last nine games and an 8-8 season record, right?
Figure all that plus some improvement for the young players and this is a team that could contend for the playoffs.
And they still could, if not for the sieve that is masquerading as an offensive line.
D’Anthony Batiste, Daryn Colledge, Lyle Sendlein, Adam Snyder and Bobby Massie looked more like turnstiles than Hogs in the preseason, and there is little reason to think things will be much different when the games start to count.
Except for, you know, the fact that opposing defenses will no longer be running vanilla schemes. Oh joy.
The sad reality of the 2012 Arizona Cardinals is that the offensive line could very well ruin what could be an excellent season.
It’s something we all fear because it’s something we know all too well.
The Cardinals have pretty much become synonymous with poor line play, and it was hoped the hiring of Ken Whisenhunt and Russ Grimm in 2007 would change that. It hasn’t. And it will continue to cost them.
“The more we watch the NFL and realize it’s becoming a passing league, a quarterback’s league, what does that tell you,” ESPN NFL analyst Ron Jaworski told Arizona Sports 620’s Burns and Gambo Thursday. “You better protect the quarterback.”
Injuries to Levi Brown and Jeremy Bridges will undoubtedly cost the team this season, but poor talent evaluation and coaching issues have left the line a question mark for as long as anyone can remember.
“I think it’s an area where clearly the Cardinals have fallen short, is developing an offensive line,” Jaworski said.
Cardinals quarterbacks were sacked 21 times in the preseason, which averages out to just more than four times per contest. While some of those takedowns can surely be blamed on inexperienced (or bad) QBs holding the ball too long, and others can be pinned directly on D.J. Young’s inability to block anyone, it would be naïve to think things will magically improve in Week 1.
As the test goes, if it looks like a duck, swims luck a duck and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.
A line that has struggled to protect the quarterback in the past and appears to have the same problem now will likely have issues in the future.
And unless that changes, a season that once held so much promise will instead end up like many others: out of the playoffs with the blame being placed on the offensive line.