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Coach to The Athletic: Cardinals’ 2018 O-line maybe worst I have seen

Outside linebacker Justin Houston #50 of the Kansas City Chiefs rushed past offensive tackle D.J. Humphries #74 of the Arizona Cardinals to pressure quarterback Josh Rosen #3 of the Arizona Cardinals at Arrowhead Stadium on November 11, 2018 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)

Calling the Arizona Cardinals offensive line from 2018 the worst ever might be harsh.

Adding anonymity can lead to such a brash statement, and that’s exactly what The Athletic’s Mike Sando uncovered in a poll of 55 NFL executives and coaches that helped him rank returning pro quarterbacks into tiers. In ranking former Cardinals quarterback and second-year pro Josh Rosen 32nd, Sando and anonymous NFL folks put an asterisk of sorts on Rosen’s rough rookie season that included 2,278 passing yards, 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

“I saw him while watching some free-agent tape, and Arizona’s offensive line was maybe the worst I have seen in the nearly 20 years I’ve been in the league,” an offensive coach said. “I do not think any quarterback could have survived behind that line.”

To be fair to that unit, the first place to start is injuries.

A.Q. Shipley, Justin Pugh, D.J. Humphries, Mike Iupati, John Wetzel, Jeremy Vujnovich and Korey Cunningham all missed multiple games due to injuries. There was a revolving door at multiple spots, as Humphries was one of five offensive tackles to play at least 240 snaps and the only to register over 50% of the total snaps on the season at 55.4%. Six guards saw at least 140 snaps, and rookie center Mason Cole was the only player on the team to play every snap.

But while the team has added the likes of guard J.R. Sweezy and tackle Marcus Gilbert to help correct the issue, there still isn’t much optimism about the group.

Pro Football Focus ranks the group 30th in the NFL for the upcoming season.

The Cardinals’ offensive line was a shambles last year. They allowed the league’s second-most total pressures (218), the fourth-most hurries (142), the second-most hits (42) and the second-most sacks (34), all while they ranked dead last among teams in snaps played per pressure (2.6). And even though they added J.R. Sweezy and Marcus Gilbert over the offseason, you shouldn’t be surprised to hear that they’re still pretty thin upfront. Center Mason Cole allowed the second-most pressures among centers as a rookie, while J.R. Sweezy has allowed pressure on 5.7% of his snaps since 2016, which is tied for 60th among the 98 guards who have played at least 500 pass-blocking snaps in that three-year period.

Injuries are already coming up as well for a group that couldn’t stay healthy in 2018.

Pugh is set to miss a couple of weeks due to what head coach Kliff Kingsbury described as a “minor” shoulder injury, leaving Cole in a position to once again come back into the first team, this time at left guard. Cole last season filled in all year for the injured A.Q. Shipley, who is in line to start at center.

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