The Arizona Cardinals’ offensive line coach position has been a carousel of disappointment. Newly hired Sean Kugel could change that.
After back to back seasons allowing 50+ sacks, the Arizona Cardinals’ offensive line will be looked at under a microscope. For Kyler Murray to develop correctly, that very same line will have to protect him. The sum of both of those parts is a group of offensive linemen that are on thin ice heading into 2019.
Luckily, the big boys in the trenches have just the guy to lead the way and help them step their game up; Sean Kugler.
Before heading down to El Paso to head coach the UTEP Miners, Kugler served as an offensive line coach for eight seasons. The result of those seasons is two much-improved lines in two different cities.
First, in Buffalo. Before Kugler’s arrival in 2007, the Bills’ offensive line was a mess. The team had five 38+ allowed sacks seasons in a row and were generally regarded as one of the league’s worst blocking units. But that changed immediately.
Kugler coached up left tackle Jason Peters to two straight Pro-Bowl births. And the team surrendered just 26 sacks in his first season. He built a culture of consistency and hard-nosed play in the trenches, and it led to results in the run game as well.
In 2010, Kugler left Buffalo to for the same coaching title with the Pittsburgh Steelers — a team that averaged nearly three sacks allowed per game for three straight seasons. The results were mostly the same.
The team went to the Super Bowl in his first season despite losing multiple starters on the line. Like in Buffalo, he set the same culture of consistency and hard-nosed play in Pittsburgh before returned to his Alma Mater, UTEP to head coach. To this day, the Steelers can credit Kugler for their fantastic line play.
After going 18-36 during his five-season tenure in El Paso, Kugler returned to the NFL as the offensive line coach for the Denver Broncos. By now, you can guess what happened; he, once again, turned one of the worst offensive lines in the league into one of the best.
Under Kugler, the Broncos posted a four-year low 34-sack allowed season in 2018. They paved the way for a Phillip Lindsay’s record-breaking 1,000+ rushing yard season as well and helped the team finish high No. 5 in DVOA in terms of rush offense. But, he spent just a year there and followed Vance Joseph to the desert.
The Cardinals are hoping for similar results from Kugler and his coaching methods. Realistically, it shouldn’t be too hard to improve the Cardinals offensive line, because, after last year’s performance, there is nowhere to go but up.
But, Kugler’s resume looks the part of a guy to out-perform low expectations. Though he’s unlikely to make radical additions to the line in terms of schematics, he has brought in some of his own. Kugler coached recent additions Marcus Gilbert and Max Garcia and they now hope to help him resurrect good, physical offensive line play in Arizona.