Offensive line woes hurt the Arizona Cardinals again in their Thursday night 34-22 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Quarterback Carson Palmer was sacked a season-high seven times and was consistently under pressure.
“We did not play very well in this ball game and that’s a very good front, but we did not play as well as we’ve been playing,” head coach Bruce Arians said. “Bradley (Sowell) struggled, obviously, with his pressures. Paul (Fanaika) struggled with pressure. Eric (Winston) struggled. The only guy that played really well up front was Lyle (Sendlein).”
Winston, the right tackle, acknowledged his unit’s lackluster performance and said the only thing they can do is to work on it in practice.
“When you’re in tough situations, it’s time to bring your lunch pail back to work and keep working,” Winston said. “There’s nothing else you can do, there’s no other way to go about it. We just got to keep continuing to work hard, we’ve got to continue to keep trusting what the coaches are telling us, what they’re coaching us to do and keep striving for that.”
In 2012, the Cardinals allowed 58 sacks, the most allowed in the NFL by a significant margin. The team expected to improve in that area heading into this season, and even more so after trading left tackle Levi Brown after Week Four, but Palmer has already been taken down 20 times.
Winston said the offensive line deserves criticism for their performance, but it still takes the whole team to keep the quarterback upright.
“I’ve always said protection is an 11-man effort, just like running the ball is,” Winston said. “Everyone’s got to do their job.
“It’s continuing to be an 11-man effort, we’re going to take the brunt of it up front because we should and we’ve got to play better up front.”
The first step, according to Winston, is just giving Palmer more time to make plays in the pocket.
“We’ve got to create a more clean pocket, more of the time, for him, where he can step up and really make some throws,” Winston said. “I think for us, we’ve got to start striving towards that and I think if we strive towards that, the sacks will also come down because he’ll be able to get rid of the ball faster.”
Arians said the team will give backup linemen Bobby Massie and Earl Watford more of a look in the coming weeks as they try to find a fix to the problem that’s been plaguing Arizona.