Offensive tackles D.J. Humphries and Paris Johnson get to meet one of the best EDGE rushers in pro football: T.J. Watt. Arizona Cardinals fans are familiar with the Watts, as T.J.’s brother, J.J., spent his final two seasons in the desert. But the younger Watt remains entrenched in his prime, and he will make his presence known time and again.
In 11 games this season, Watt has recorded at least a half-sack in nine of them, and he has 13.5 total to go with 25 quarterback hits, and 12 tackles behind the line. Therefore, if the Cardinals want to move the ball efficiently on the Steelers, Humphries and Johnson must account for whether Watt is lining up near them and step up their respective games.
Arizona Cardinals tackles could determine offense’s success
Will the Cardinals offensive tackles find a way to stop Watt? Probably not, but it doesn’t mean they can’t slow down the star pass-rusher long enough for Kyler Murray to roll out and create space. Look for offensive coordinator Drew Petzing to try and direct most of the plays away from Watt to bide Murray time, but even then, Humphries and Johnson must find a way to keep the star EDGE rusher from blowing past them and wreaking havoc.
If there is one positive, it’s that the Steelers have no one else on their defense with more than 4.5 sacks. However, Alex Highsmith can also generate pressure, evidenced by his 14 quarterback hits.
Murray’s mobility is the one major advantage the Arizona Cardinals have. Since he can still outrun most if not all EDGE rushers in the game, Humphries and Johnson don’t need to put up stellar performances. But they must give Murray enough time to at least extend the play when Watt and Highsmith eventually find their respective way into the backfield.
(Statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference)