The Cardinals allowed the 2nd most sacks in the league last year, allowing 54, and now they have been dealt a huge blow to their offensive line as Levi Brown could be out for the year after tearing his triceps. Brown has been described as “right on the margin” to return this season after undergoing surgery and if the Cardinals are out of the playoff race late in the season, very possible, they won’t bring him back. With no guaranteed money left on his recently restructured 5 year, 30 million dollar contract after the season, it’s very likely that the 2007 5th overall pick has played his last snap for the Cardinals.
However, this may end up being a blessing in disguise for the Cardinals. Their backup offensive tackles might not be any better, but it would be hard for them to be worse. Brown has been horrendous since taking over a full time starter in 2008, allowing 41 sacks, 45 quarterback hits, and 150 quarterback pressures in 4 seasons. A solid run blocker yes, but this is a passing league and Brown has the league’s 2nd worst pass blocking efficiency over the last 3 seasons (sacks allowed + .75 hits allowed + .75 pressures allowed/passing snaps played).
In his absence, the Cardinals will either play DJ Young, a 2011 undrafted free agent who has never played a snap, or Jeremy Bridges, who recently lost the right tackle battle to 4th round rookie Bobby Massie. Bridges, the veteran, has allowed 8 sacks, 13 quarterback hits, and 26 quarterback pressures in 17 regular and postseason starts over the last 3 starts, both on the right side and the left side, as the Cardinals’ primary swing tackle. Massie, who has won the right tackle job, could also be a candidate to move to the left side this season as he’s probably their most talented offensive tackle. Even though he was a 4th round rookie, he was widely regarded as a steal. Their offensive tackle play probably won’t be quite as bad it was last season.
Another thing that will help out the Cardinals’ offensive line is the presumed decision to start John Skelton over Kevin Kolb. Kolb’s awful pocket presence was part of the reason why the Cardinals allowed so many sacks last season as Kolb took a sack on 26.1% of pressured snaps last season, tied for 2nd worst in the league. Skelton, meanwhile, took a sack on 19.2% of pressured snaps last season. While Kolb took 30 sacks, Skelton took “only” 23 in roughly as many pressured dropbacks. The Cardinals’ offensive line should be one of the worst in the league again this year, but they probably won’t be as bad as they were last year and Brown’s injury is not that serious because he’s atrocious in pass protection.
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