Cardinals pass protection must improve with Rams game on tap

(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) Kyler Murray
(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) Kyler Murray /

A subpar performance by the Arizona Cardinals pass-protectors last weekend can not carry over against the Los Angeles Rams.

For most of the 2021 campaign, the Arizona Cardinals offensive linemen had very few issues with their pass protection.

Heading into week 18, Arizona‘s blocking unit had allowed 34 quarterback sacks, which averaged out to just over two a game. Not a great team statistic by any means, but certainly a number that the offense could deal with on a weekly basis.

Unfortunately, the sack total alarmingly increased last Sunday during the Cards’ 38-30 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Quarterback Kyler Murray was taken down five times, losing a gut-punching 53 yards along the way.

Even more concerning about the sacks was the fact that it was the Seahawks’ defense that wreaked havoc on the Redbirds’ blockers. A Seattle group that had amassed just 29 sacks heading into the matchup. Should the Cardinals be concerned about their sudden inability to provide adequate protection for the normally elusive Murray?

Arizona Cardinals subpar pass protection could be an issue on Monday night

Don’t look now, but Arizona will be facing an extremely formidable Los Angeles Rams defensive unit this week. A pass rush that registered a whopping 50 sacks in the regular season, the third-most in the NFL. If the Cards don’t improve quickly, Murray could be running for his life when the two clubs meet in the Wild Card round of the playoffs on Monday night.

Back in Week 4, during the Cardinals’ 37-20 victory over the Rams, Murray was sacked three times. That number increased a bit in week 14, during Los Angeles’ 30-23 triumph in the rematch. The Rams took Murray down on four occasions during that contest, with eight-time Pro Bowler Aaron Donald notching three of them.

It was a bit hard to tell who was most responsible for the five sacks that were given up by “Big Red” against Seattle. The normal culprit is usually the offensive line, but Murray did seem to be holding onto the ball abnormally long as well.

Los Angeles pass-rush specialists like Donald, Leonard Floyd, and Greg Gaines will once again be a handful this coming Monday night. Whatever issues Arizona had in keeping Murray upright last week versus the Seahawks must be rectified quickly. Their playoff lives could depend on it.

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