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Mark Schlereth: Cardinals’ O-line was unhappy with play calls, now satisfied

Quarterback Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals looks to pass against the Detroit Lions in the first quarter of the game at State Farm Stadium on September 08, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray getting sacked repeatedly early-on this season was a point of discussion. Whose fault was that?

The debate often centered around whether to blame the offensive line for giving up those sacks, or whether the onus was on Murray to throw the ball away before getting hit. Mark Schlereth, a 12-year NFL offensive lineman and now an NFL analyst, joined 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Bickley & Marotta on Wednesday and added a third thing to consider.

“When you give up seven, eight, nine sacks, that’s never on the offensive line,” he said. “That’s on the coach. You give up seven sacks in a game or eight sacks in a game, your coaches aren’t getting it done.

“I don’t care who you are, you could go down the Hall of Justice and get Aquaman and Superman and Batman and whoever the hell else lives in the Hall of Justice, and say, ‘Go ahead and protect 46 times today,’ every one of them is going to get their ass kicked. It’s impossible. The athletes on the other side of the ball are absolutely insane. So I don’t care who you are.”

What’s more, Schlereth dropped the nugget that the Cardinals’ offensive line wasn’t happy about it.

“And those guys are annoyed. I’ll tell you first hand,” he said. “I talked to several of them. They did not like it. Early in the season, they were not happy. And they were not happy with the coach. And again, part of the learning curve. So I guess the moral of the story here is things are settling down and your coach is growing and your players are growing.”

That last part is notable: According to Schlereth, Kingsbury, a first-year head coach who came up from the college ranks, has made the appropriate adjustment. The Cardinals lately have been running less 10-personnel — one running back and no tight ends — so having one or more tight ends up front can help the line.

Kingsbury told Bickley & Marotta on Monday, before Schlereth reported this information, that he was getting more comfortable as a play-caller. He was, though, speaking in the context of Murray.

“I would say I’m more comfortable in that I know how to call it for our quarterback better than I did Week 1, ” he said. “We have a comfort level now together what he likes, how he likes to be coached on gameday and talk through things, and it’s just a process that will continue to evolve over the entire year. And as a unit, as a coaching staff, I think guys are getting more comfortable in what we can be, and hopefully it just continues to improve.”

Opposing defenses were credited with an average of 7 quarterback hits and 5 sacks per week in weeks one through four against the Cardinals. In Week 5, the Cardinals took two quarterback hits and one sack, and in Week 6, those numbers were both zero.

The remarks of Cardinals center A.Q. Shipley are evidence to support that the offensive line is cool with Kingsbury. Shipley was on Burns & Gambo on Monday and praised the first-year coach.

“Kliff’s an unbelievably smart coach,” Shipley said. “The creativity he brings to this group and to this offense, it’s been unmatched. I think you have to give a little credit to our offensive line coach, Coach [Sean] Kugler, getting some of those 12- and 13-personnel runs dialed up the last couple weeks. He’s been lobbying for it and he got a couple of them dialed up.”

Bickley & Marotta

Burns & Gambo

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