Absence of ‘security blanket’ Rodney Hudson has impacted Cardinals
His name doesn’t show up on the stat sheet, but there’s no denying starting center Rodney Hudson’s impact on the Arizona Cardinals and quarterback Kyler Murray.
The lineman has easily worked his way up to become one of, if not the, biggest offseason acquisition for general manager Steve Keim.
Whether it’s his physical play or his role as one of the team’s unquestioned leaders, Hudson has been paying major dividends in a revamped offensive line.
“Rodney’s been huge for us,” Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury said Monday. “When you look at the games he’s played in, we played really well offensively. He’s the security blanket for all of us, really, the coaching staff and the O-line and the skill position players. He’s kind of the glue that’s kinda made it stick all together.”
Unfortunately for Arizona, the usually durable Hudson has been forced to miss five games this season due to injury or COVID-19. The product on the field hasn’t been the same with Hudson sidelined.
On the plus side of things, the center is back in mix after being activated off the COVID-19 list Monday.
“It’s a big deal to get him back,” Kingsbury said. “We’ll ease him back in the next few days, try and get his conditioning going, make sure he feels up to speed and hopefully by game day, he’s ready to roll.”
While the center works to get back into game shape ahead of a Week 17 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys, let’s take a look at where Hudson was missed the most:
In the five games Hudson has been sidelined, Arizona is 2-3.
All three of the losses have come at home to the Green Bay Packers, Los Angeles Rams and Indianapolis Colts in primetime matchups.
In each of the first three games Hudson missed from Weeks 6-8, the Cardinals allowed 11 pressures on Murray. It’s the only three-game stretch of double-digit pressures all season.
Over the team’s past two losses, the Hudson-less line has given up nine and 16 pressures, the latter of which marks the second-most allowed by Arizona all season.
Only the team’s loss to the Rams in Week 14 had more pressures (29).
In all but one game without Hudson on the field — nine in Week 15 against the Detroit Lions — the Cardinals offensive line has given up at least 11 pressures.
The Rams’ Monday Night Night Football showing has tipped the average pressures per game to a nearly identical mark, however, with Arizona giving up 11.2 with Hudson playing versus 11.6 with him out.
Over the three-game stretch Hudson missed, Arizona allowed a total of eight sacks.
It’s the most allowed over a three-game span all season for the Cardinals.
Off the mark
In the four of the five games Hudson has missed, Murray has posted some of his lowest passing percentages of the year.
Over the three-game stretch in Weeks 6-8, Murray completed 66.7% of his passes twice after posting no less than 70% over four of the first fives games of the season.
The last two losses have been even worse in that regard, with Murray completing just 63% and 56.1% of his throws, the lowest percentages of the season for the signal caller.
Murray’s lowest passer rating of the season (67) came in Week 8’s loss to the Packers.
With Hudson out, Murray is averaging a passer rating of 95.4, compared to a 109.3 mark when the center is active.
Murray has 13 fumbles this season, and eight have happened in games without Hudson at center. While those haven’t been lost, they’ve accounted for key losses of downs.
He also suffered a safety in the loss to the Colts when an errant snap led him into the end zone and a safety via an intentional grounding throw.