Over the last three weeks, ten NFL teams have allowed more quarterback sacks than the Arizona Cardinals.
Let that sink in.
The San Diego Chargers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, New York Jets, Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans have all allowed more quarterback sacks than the Cardinals’ seven in that time span.
Considering that the Cardinals allowed opponents to perform 29 sack dances in a four-week span, there’s significant process being made.
What’s been different?
First, rookie Nate Potter was inserted at left tackle, and has been a major improvement over journeyman D’Anthony Batiste, who started the first nine games of the season. Potter will make his fourth straight start against the Seattle Seahawks at Century Link Field Sunday.
“For a rookie player, he’s done a nice job. He’s gotten better and better,” Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “This will be a real test, in that noise, and they’ve got really good rushers in (Chris) Clemons and (Bruce Irvin) and they do a number of different things to take advantage of that, so this will be a real test for him.”
According to ProFootballFocus.com, Potter is coming off his best performance of the season in last Sunday’s loss to the New York Jets. The former Boise State All-American allowed just one quarterback hit against the Jets.
Potter got his feet wet in Week 9 when he replaced Batiste in the middle of the Cardinals loss to the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field, and has built on that strong first showing.
“To go in against Clay Matthews in the first game he had to play, which is a similar-type situation, from there, he’s gotten better and better,” said his head coach. “I think that he’s still a rookie and this will be a new situation for him, but he’s going to be a good football player.”
Whisenhunt is also pleased with how Potter has played in other areas.
“He’s actually done a good job with the run blocking,” he said. “I think what you see from him is that he understands the game and his technique is good. He may not have the bulk or the strength yet to move it like you think he will be able to one day.
“He’s conscious of trying to work his feet and work his hands and you see him come off the ball — he does a lot of things very athletically, which for a guy his size, when his strength catches up to it, you like that combination.”
Potter hasn’t been the only rookie tackle to show major improvement in the last few weeks. Right tackle Bobby Massie, after giving up 13 sacks in a six-game span, has shored up the right side. Massie hasn’t given up a sack since a Week 8 loss to San Francisco on Monday Night Football.