Too much, too soon from O-line?

Posted by Darren Urban on August 25, 2010 – 12:26 pm

There was little question during the offseason the Cardinals had stockpiled good depth with their offensive linemen. If you believe Brandon Keith can play in this league — and I believe that, as do the coaches — they have a good group. But maybe everyone, at least on the outside, was expecting too much too soon.

The reality is the only person in the same spot is center Lyle Sendlein. Reggie Wells flipped from left to right guard. Levi Brown flipped from right tackle to left tackle. Alan Faneca, at left guard (and pictured below), is new to the team (if not Russ Grimm’s tactics). And Keith hasn’t played for two years other than practice. Deuce Lutui, arguably the team’s best offensive lineman by the end of last season, let his weight land him in the doghouse.

There were going to be growing pains. Coach Ken Whisenhunt said that yesterday, Brown has brought it up. There was an assumption — and I was one of the first to do it — that the summer together would allow the group to mesh well by now. But that, in addition to a lack of gameplanning at this point, has shown there is still a ways to go. I still wonder if Lutui doesn’t find his way past Wells on the depth chart by the beginning of the season, but regardless of whether it is Deuce or Reggie, the Cards’ unit may still negotiating the learning curve.

This is all so important in context of the offense. The line is crucial to everything, to running the ball to protecting the quarterback — whether it is Matt Leinart or Derek Anderson. Leinart hasn’t played well, but he was harassed Monday. I am sure the Cards want to run the ball better too. Again, none of this really matters now as long as the line works cohesively come Sept. 12 in St. Louis and forward. But it may take all of the final two-and-a-half weeks of preseason to get to that point.

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54 Responses to “Too much, too soon from O-line?”

  1. By Joe-B on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    There was no running game until the second half, and Leinart had no time to throw at all. I am really hoping that all of this is just because of the lack of gameplanning.

    I think they should treat Saturday more like a real game than they normally do so they can get a better look at everything.

  2. By MikeG on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    Hey Darren-Nice blog on the line!!!-I think the Cards
    line will struggle a bit through the first 4-6 games
    of the reg-season just mainly because of new personnel in new positions. I think they will go to a more power prodding line this year. It may take awhile to jell!! I would like to see Luiti out of Whiz’s doghouse though-he can be an asset in the run game!!! Agree????

  3. By showtime on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    you know this is a good point. We praised the continuity across the line the last few years and this year we had to make some changes so we gotta give the o-line time to gel. The talent is there so hopefully it’s just a matter of time.

  4. By Rugbymuffin on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    Excuses, excuses.

    They looked pretty poor against the Titans, regardless of the scenario.

  5. By Aaron on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    Darren, I know there have been a lot of varying opinions on how much Faneca still has left in the tank. I love his signing and think he can help improve the rest of the group, but do you think that might end up happening from a player-coach role? I’m wondering if Wells slides back to left guard and Lutui takes his right guard slot back, and Faneca helps in practice and from the sidelines?

  6. By Darren Urban on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    Aaron —

    Faneca will be in there playing.

  7. By trigidy22 on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    Darren Do u think we can get Deuce Lutui a Bigger Helmet!! lol looks like a kids small on that Big Head!! What size Helmet is That???

  8. By kauaicardsfan on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    Hey Darren,
    I guess we are expecting the O-line to gel quickly but Faneca should be used to the Grimm’s system from Pittsburgh days, unless they have changed it since then?
    And Levi “should” have an easier time to transition back to the left side?
    I agree that Lutui should be back in the line up so really keith would be the only one with a bigger learning curve?
    Just seems like there are further off than they should be honestly.

  9. By Darren Urban on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    Kauai —

    I can’t argue that point.

  10. By SeeingRed on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    For the sake of the line, I hope Deuce pays his penance and gets back into his role as starting RG. I like Reggie but I’m guessing he’s not a part of the long-term plans anyway (like Lutui probably is) so let’s get on with it, shall we?

  11. By TucsonTim on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    Too much too soon, maybe Grimm should have spent a little less time on his speach and a little more time working on the O’line.

    Kind of like the first part of what Ben had to say about Whiz and what he did in Pitt with a rookie QB from a small school. But I think he had a little better O’line to work with and a real running game

  12. By Darren Urban on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    Tucson —

    Russ wrote his speech in one night. I don’t think that made any impact.

  13. By Tinted Face Shield on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply


    Do you think it’s possible they keep 9 offensive lineman on the 53 man roster? And using Hadnot as the back up center and letting Claxton go?

    I think your opening part about the depth and if you believe Keith is a starter pretty much sums up their depth perfectly.

  14. By Darren Urban on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    Tinted —

    They did keep 9 last year, so yes, that’s a possibility.

  15. By Bill L on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    Hmmmmmmm? So after a couple days of Leinart bashing and “Oh MYing” someone notices that after training camp and 2 preseason games……THE O-Line STINKS. NO running game……. D lines rush 4 and look like they are running through a sieve. Well, the ML bashing is already in the books… on to the next game and let the ML Bashing resume. We all know that ML, with the other 10 O players being totally incompetent, should score a gazillion TDs ALL BY HIMSELF and take the team to the NFC championship……….ALL BY HIMSELF.

  16. By BigRedFan on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    What about Jeremy Bridges? Has Levi Brown really played well enough to fend him off? After the job he did filling in for Brown during an injury last season, I had a feeling he would really give a run for the position. Has this not been the case this year?

  17. By Darren Urban on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    BigRed —

    I think Levi will be given a chance to start the season at his new spot.

  18. By R Robles on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    No Excuses Man Matt Had His Chances To make Good Throws He Didnt Cant Blame Blitzing Thats What The Game Is About.When Matt Breaks From The Snap He Takes To Long Way To Long Brees, Manning, They Are Back There Bouncing Moving Ready To Throw Matt Looks Very Lazy

  19. By Darren Urban on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    R Robles —

    Is that a title of some article you wrote? That’s a lot of capital letters.

  20. By Nick Pepe on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    Darren,what are the chances they keep 4 qb’s? Would they risk losing one (Hall or Skelton) to another team? And my wife, who is a fan and a great”football wife”, saw the close-up of Matt before the coin toss and said “he looks
    scared”! That concerned me because 1) I agreed with her.. and 2) your QB needs to be confident and in charge. Your thoughts? Is he not confident in himself?
    Nick Pepe

  21. By Darren Urban on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    Nick —

    There is a chance they keep four. I still think they try to get a rookie to the practice squad.

  22. By Justchillout on Aug 26, 2010 | Reply

    Do we really think another team is looking at our 3 and 4 string waiting for us to cut them? They are not that great. Good but not great

  23. By Tinted Face Shield on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply


    Do you think if the Cards would have waited and traded Boldin now, they could have gotten more? Because the Dolphins got a decent CB for a WR that is half as good as Boldin and the Cards got a rookie receiver who can’t catch for Boldin. They could have waited and traded him to a team that was desperate.

  24. By Darren Urban on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    Tinted —

    Completely a moot point. If they had waited, they don’t trade for Kerry Rhodes either.

  25. By CHIRPCHIRP44 on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    The O-Line will be alright. I’m not really worried about this team at all. Losing Anquan is tough, he was my favorite player and I wish we could have kept him but he was ready for a change. I think the additions of Porter and Rhodes were nice and Toler looks good so far as does Washington. ESPN has always hated on the Cards, it’s ok we don’t have mass appeal, I get it. But to kill Matt over 9 snaps on a MNF game is ridiculous and quite honestly irresponsible. The preseason is mostly for teams to shore up their depth charts. The starters get a little work but I would imagine that the bulk of their training comes in camp and practices. So, Darren, you’ve probably watched every practice and in your opinion is Matt Leinart doing well? And do you think all these concerns are a little blown out of proportion?

  26. By Walter L on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    Please Whiz, get Deuce back into that starting line up! PRONTO! lol

  27. By joe67 on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    and if they don’t jell, like I think they will, what are the options?

  28. By Darren Urban on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    Joe67 —

    Look at the backups.

  29. By matt m. on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    I love the cards and its hard to listen to other fans who don’t believe in leinart. Coach whiz does and so must I. My question is being that you see more than us, do you see panic or disbelief in that locker room? How is Matt handling all of the negativity?

  30. By Darren Urban on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    Matt M —

    I don’t get the sense he’s all that thrilled, to be honest.

  31. By nor cal cards fan on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    Hi Darren, I know u are probably sick and tired of all the Leinart questions, but i wanted to get your opinion on one thing. How do u feel about the comments made by Chris Carter on MNF specifically concerning Fitz having issues with Leinart not getting the passes to him accurately and leaving him hung out to dry with bad passes? It’s one thing if he can’t generate a scoring drive in the preseason or even a first down for that matter, but if the super star wideout has trust issues with him throwing bad balls or telegraphing his passes to the point that he’s concerned about this continually happening, then it’s a MAJOR ISSUE. Let’s not forget Leinart cost Anquan two playoff games last year with an errant pass in the reg season finale. Do u think Leinart is already starting to lose the confidence and trust of his teammates? Cris Carter and Fitz are very close and have been for many years…

  32. By Darren Urban on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    Nor Cal —

    I think a guy has to show he can play. Is Fitz as confident in Leinart as he was in Warner? No. Does that shock anyone? No.

  33. By MyMan"Larry" on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    Darren, I agree 100%. Neither Matt nor Hightower had a good game against the Titans but how can they if there is no support from their O-line. It truly is the O-line’s job to make it happen. They need to create the holes for Tim and they need to give Matt some time so that he can have options down field. I think people should look at the big picture and ease off of Matt a little and put a little more pressure on the O-line. After all football is a “team” sport!

  34. By Peter in Canada on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    I couldn’t agree more. With the exception of Faneca the players are all returning vets. Because of position changes there is a period of adjustment but since they are vets they will get there. The QB situation is different. Whoever plays, it will be a significant downgrade.

  35. By be calm on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    First, I dont buy this notion that everyone either loves or hates Matt Leinart. There are many of us (the silent majority?) who are just waiting and watching becuz we understand that nobody will have a really good idea about him until around the third or fourth game of the seaon.

    Second, all this hand-wringing by some fans is rediculous. Every year so far, the Cards have looked terrible in the pre-season under the guidance of the Whizard of Az (4-13) — and then we just go out and win the division.

    Kurt Warner’s pre-season looked awful last year, but this could all be a Whiz stradegy — no game plan, everything one on one, he shows nothing, calls it all very vanilla — which tests everybody individually really well and gets our team humbled in lop-sided losses, so by the time the season starts, our guys are sick of it and come out as mad as hell with a fire in their gut.

    He takes the reigns off the second and third units a little more. It seems like he has a different agenda with them (no surprise), so they often have more success, and the back-up QB’s can look better, just like sometimes Leinart outplayed Warner last pre-season.

  36. By Scott H on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    Geez, same guys ( except Faneca ) in different positions and it doesn’t look like the same quality line that we’ve seen the past few years. Maybe it will come together. And I know some people get tired of hearing references to Kurt Warner, but – like it or not – a QB of his quality can help the overall performance of the O-line with his ability to read defenses, his decisiveness, and quick release. I’m not saying the O-line has totally been the product of the QB these past few years, but the QB was absolutely part of the story. The chemistry of the line has been disrupted this year and that is clearly the biggest issue. But the change in QB can’t be ignored, either. Whatever, the case, I hope it comes together.

  37. By Don C on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    I always here that we don’t game plan in the pre-season and that’s why we look so bad. Is this an excuse or what. Why can other teams first team look a lot cleaner than ours? Don’t they get practice handling the blitz in practice. We looked terrible in both games with our first team. I am losing confidence in Wiz’s play calling ability. Look at the drop off last year without Haley. In the New Orleans playoff game we hardly ran the ball when we got behind. There was plenty of time to still run and we just went to spread offense and they knew what was coming. I don’t think he is very creative at all. Wish we had an offensive coordinator. I think we need to give a Matt a couple of games and then if it doesn’t look good pull him. I don’t think DA is going to get you to the playoffs so maybe see what Skelton can do then.

    Our D still looks terrible in pass coverage, when will we ever get good at pass defense. Tight ends get open from AD easily. Jeremy Shockey on a bad leg got open from AD in the play offs. Sorry for the rant, need to clean things up.

  38. By Brad ONeill on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    The first 9 plays of cardinals offense as seen by a fan..
    1st play number 22 of the titans unblocked nails lienart just after release.0

    2nd play
    brandon Kieth allows his man to spin off into the runner blowing up the play. lead blocker completely misses his assignment. if keith holds his ground he probably ties up two blockers for just long enough for tim to hit the gap and make a positive gain.

    3rd play
    two of the receivers aren’t even past the first down marker when the play is dead. the pocket holds up well the receivers just didnt get the two yards down the field they needed to go.


    4th play the line is moved back 5 yards with the exception of Sendlien matt is closed in on both sides but gets a bad throw off under pressure. incompletre

    5th play 2nd and 15 after false statr 75-two titans meet hightower 5 yards back of the line of scrimmage after sendlien is beat bad and Branch elects to help out guard instead of protecting the outside. for a 1 yard loss.

    6th play- 3rd and 16 good read by lienart as 22 comes on the blitz again he hits tight end one on one with a safety. its one of those plays where if the tight end wins we get first down. if the safety wins we punt. we punt.

    7th play- running play to the right levi brown looks completely lost as his blocking assignment nails hightower. in the back field for 2 yard loss.

    8th play- levi browns guy nails lienart after levi whiffs on his block. but lienart gets the throw off and despite a little bobbling 12 brings it in and makes a pretty good move to pick up some yards.

    9th play- good pass protection but ball is off the mark. or receiver is in the wrong place. the announcers thought that the receiver screwed up but it looked more like an under thrown ball to me.

    punt- marshay green shows an amazing burst of speed and makes a great play on the ball. he manages to pull the ball off the bounce and chuck it back over the endzone line in the time between steps running at full speed.

  39. By Seanham3 on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    If our O- Line can take care of business this year, i dont see us having to worry much about anything. Just give Leinart some time and im sure he will make some plays for us.

  40. By Richard S on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    If our O-line don’t improve and quick, Anderson will be playing QB, not because he beat him out, but because the defenders beat up Leinart. If you remember past seasons, Matt is prone to get injured. What was it 2 shoulder injuries while being sacked. At that rate it would be wise to keep all 4 QB’s around.

  41. By Thomas77 on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    So Darren,

    You say that you think there is a chance they keep four, but you suspect they’re gonna try and move one of the rookies to the practice squad. So why not chime in with the rest of the analysts and give us your opinion as to who you think they will prolly take the waivers risk with?

  42. By Darren Urban on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    Thomas77 —

    Not sure. Hall maybe? Tough to move a fifth-round pick through waivers. But who knows?

  43. By Thomas77 on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    I feel a bit bad for Matt. He has made alot of money off the Cardinals, but has taken a heck of alot of flack too. Did he have his chances? Of course he did. Has he made mistakes? Of course he has. But you’ve got to give the guy credit for not cracking yet. When he lost out to Kurt Warner, he took it fairly well and patiently waited for his time. He did his best to prepare himself for this time (even if he was pretty p.o.’d initially, which is what you should expect). If it’s not the national pundits and at least half the local fans that think he’s an utter failure as a quarterback, then it’s criticism about how he handles himself in his interviews. I’d agree that he’s not the most polished. But since when has speech making been a pre-requisite for being a successful quarterback? I’d be pretty pissed off and probably be repeating myself too, if I was asked the same friggin question dozens of times after only two preseason games. I love Kurt Warner and thought he did pretty decent as a “diplomat” for our team. But he tended to ramble, repeat himself, and even got a little boring at times, in my opinion. Even Ken Whisenhunt repeats himself alot. I mean, come on, these guy’s aren’t running for President.
    I’m not gonna stand here and say that Matt has shined in preseason. I’ve got my concerns too, but I still think he deserves his shot. He hasn’t exactly moved the chains, but he hasn’t turned the ball over either. Maybe he plays it too safe, but I still think it’ll be easier for him to gain his confidence and then start taking a few more risks, than it would be to try and restrain an unabashed gunslinger who get’s a ton of first downs and yards, then turns the ball over in the Red Zone. He needs consistent regular season play time, he shouldn’t be yanked after one bad REGULAR season game.

    So, in my opinion, do whatever you need to to keep and develop Hall and Skelton, but give the nod to Matt this year, and just let him play, dang-it!

  44. By Jay Green on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    John Skelton didn’t seem to have any trouble moving the offense. Neither did Max Hall. You guys are dreaming if you don’t see the obvious – Leinart and Anderson are journeyman at best. Neither will ever be a viable starter – much less a star – in the NFL.

  45. By Darren Urban on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    Jay —

    Thanks coach.

  46. By Justchillout on Aug 26, 2010 | Reply

    Dude they were facing 3 and 4 string. Half the guys they play against will be on the street in two weeks. Oh did you see int hall threw.

  47. By Donald on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    Can we trade some of our fans for ones that don’t come with a panic button stuck in the “Holy Crap” position?

  48. By Duece on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    So 4 years of quarterbacking in the NFL with no significant improvement doen’t allow us to get some shots in on Matt Winer-t?

  49. By Thomas77 on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    It may very well be that the Whiz n’ Leinart marriage is doomed. Matt just may not be able to excel under the Whisenhunt style of coaching. That’s not a knock of Whiz. I think he’s a great coach and wouldn’t have any other for Arizona. But I do sometimes think that Matt has been somewhat stifled under this style. We all know Warner was an extreme competitor. He lived to prove people wrong. He was almost always an underdog, and thrived on it. Which is why he probably did so well under Whisenhunt. The competition. The do-or-die. Based on Pete Carroll and what other folks seem to say about Matt, he does much better under a system that throws all its support behind him. He needs that affirmation, and honestly, I doubt he’ll ever get that under Whiz. That’s just not his style. Even Roethlisberger had issues with Whiz, if I remember correctly. He’s hard on his QB’s. Again, I’m not bashing Whisenhunt. But he didn’t draft Matt, and I’m not sold on the idea that he’s Whisenhunts man.

  50. By Brad ONeill on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    thomas- i think whiz has been very supportive of liner. he may not molest him between series like pete carol but he let him know he has his back and that’s pretty good.

    matt is going to be a great quarterback, if we can just get levi brown and company blocking the right guys everyhing will work out just fine.

  51. By Justchillout on Aug 26, 2010 | Reply

    The line is cards biggest concern. Brown was terrible in the tittans game. Kieth was not much better. As for fanica I have not seen any of his nastyness. It’s not the qb it is this line.

  52. By Jeff Gollin on Aug 26, 2010 | Reply

    What troubles me is that,over many years, I’ve had the opportunity to see other teams’ offensive lines forced to make mid or late=season changes (due to unexpected injuries) and plug in a battle-worn veteran or an untested rookie backups who have performed just fine. (The Giants seem to do this every 3-4 years).

    I sometimes feel that the “we need more time for the O-line to jell” is just a cop-out for not playing up to standards.

    In the Cardinals’ case, I hope Russ & Wiz are right and I’m wrong.

  53. By TucsonTim on Aug 27, 2010 | Reply

    Then maybe he just isn’t a very good O’line coach. How many years can the Cards be last or next to last in rushing before we think about making a change there

  54. By Darren Urban on Aug 27, 2010 | Reply

    Tucson —

    Seems to me Russ did just fine all those years in Pittsburgh, if rushing rankings are your criteria.

    Recently, it has more to do with who the quarterback was. Both Beanie and Hightower averaged more than 4 yards a carry last season. Rushing rankings are on total yards, and this team was about Kurt throwing the ball.

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