The cost of helping in protection

Posted by Darren Urban on September 11, 2013 – 9:26 am

At one point during his press conference Monday, Bruce Arians said he only used three of the six bullets he planned to use in St. Louis — a reference to the deep shots he goes into every game wanting to try. And when people jump up and talk about giving left tackle Levi Brown help, well, therein lies the rub.

“There were some shots that we didn’t take in the game, looking back,” Arians said. “We didn’t throw a couple of balls that I would’ve liked to have called, mainly because of the pressure. Normally, I don’t do that.”

That’s why Levi Brown, if he is going to stay in the lineup, has to improve in one-on-ones and the Cards can’t just rely on helping him every time. (I found it interesting, by the way, that Brown wasn’t among the top 10 lowest graded players for the week by Darnell Dockett was eighth in the league. On the positive side, QB Carson Palmer was the third highest ranked player in the NFL, and the top quarterback — even above Peyton Manning and his seven TD passes.)

Arians has a term for when his play-calling is inhibited because of needing extra pass protection. He calls it button-up. “You’re all blocked up with nowhere to go,” Arians said. “Somebody else is going to get there soon enough.” Arians told an anecdote playing against the Titans once upon a time, and using extra blockers on Kevin Carter and Jevon Kearse. The problem? There were so few receivers in the pattern, none could get open, and eventually, the protection broke down anyway. “We got sacked about five times,” Arians said.

That doesn’t mean help doesn’t help (like Andre Ellington’s great block on Michael Floyd’s long catch, below) but the Cards can’t do it all the time. As for Brown and the Cards situation, Kent Somers does a great job breaking down the “elite” talk and the Cards’ thought process that led us to this point.

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21 Responses to “The cost of helping in protection”

  1. By montysdsu on Sep 11, 2013 | Reply

    There is something seriously wrong with some rankings if that guy can get beat like that, require the guard, tight end, back side tight end, running back to all help him and he’s not rated in the bottom 10. I watched redzone channel, a handful of games on shortcuts and no tackle in the league got beat like he did.

    And, you know why you have to help and can’t use your bullets? Because you took over the team and then spent the next half year telling us that the tackles were better than we knew. You also threw away early possessions by refusing to help him

    This guy is the like the offensive coordinator Buddy Ryan. Brucey Ball.

  2. By montysdsu on Sep 11, 2013 | Reply

    And, like I noted during the game, they had to use the tight end to kick out block on Brown’s man. I can’t imagine any other player in the league required the amount of work done to help him as Levi; at least it shows the staff on offense has the ability to adjust (though those adjustments should have happened during camp since anyone can see Levi is terrible)

  3. By Dynosoar on Sep 11, 2013 | Reply

    I didn’t watch any other games, but Palmer did play a great game. 3rd best player in the league, imagine if we’d have won. Thanks for the link to Kent Somers’ article. He does have an interesting thought process on the whole situation.

    How is Sowell performing in practices? I just hope Brown or Sowell will protect Palmer the way we need him protected. Better yet, both learn and develop the way they need to so they can relieve each other in games.

    I just want our team to develop and win games. Again, 1 loss is not the end for me and I saw much to be excited about with our team Sunday. Looking forward to our game against the Lions and seeing the red jersey I love on the field.

  4. By Cardsgirl on Sep 11, 2013 | Reply

    Montysdsu–give me a break! Levi missed all of last season and all pre-season until training camp. He was excellent the last half of 2011. Give him a chance, and some time to work again on technique and another game or 2 before you condemn the entire Cardinal coaching staff as well as the player himself. If he can get back to that level of play–great! If not–then he may have earned some of the vitriol that some fans are heaping on him right now.

    Howie Long should know better about O line development than the fans and he said something much like this to Ron Wolfley this morning.

  5. By cdj on Sep 11, 2013 | Reply

    i really hate how everyone is complaining about levi brown, you win as a team you lose as a team, that is it

  6. By the way - Dr. G. on Sep 11, 2013 | Reply

    OK… RB “Chip block” … That’s a kinda new term for me. I guess it’s ‘cuz of the following: (Don’t hurt the DE coming in, and beware! The DE and your LT could fall on top of you to end the play!) Give or take 600 lbs….!

    Lions’ starting DE’s average 273 lbs.

    Cards’ Mendenhall is 225 lbs, A. Smith is 208 lbs… giving up about 50 and 65 lbs respectively. A chip block must equal: Slow the DE down and don’t get hurt!!! And give the QB an extra short outlet. I need clarification. (Maybe a TE & a RB in the backfield?) That will mess with their heads, huh? Don’t telegraph the pass…

    If the Cards use a TE/FB at about 255-260 lbs, it would produce a better blocking effort. BA talked about this as the reason for no FB’s necessary… OK, USE THEM… Mr. Levi Brown #75 will be very grateful. I wanted to name him ‘cuz he hasn’t had much press lately.

    I know the defense must be working hard this week on rushing, tackling, wrapping up, etc…Key on Kim Kardashian’s ex-boyfriend. And, If we take care of Carson, this game is very winnable. Go Cards !!!!

    Please remember today’s memorial for those lost in the 9/11 attack….

  7. By John The Draft Guy on Sep 11, 2013 | Reply


    “He was excellent the last part of 2011”

    OK. I’ll give you that. But he was drafted in 2007 and the best you can give me is a stretch of 8 games two years ago? How did he do the first part of 2011? How about 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007?

    This is not a young player needing to develop. He has played 6 of his 7 years in the league. There is no time to wait for 7 year vets to develop. Guys 7 years into the league should know how to kick step He is getting beat by speed and is slow to his kick steps.

    BTW, Of course Howie wants the cards to keep Levi out there, his son plays DE for the Rams. I’m sure he thought we should have kept Skelton also.

    But really, How many games of the cardinals do you think Howie watches? Really. Maybe two ram games. Do you think he breaks down the film and looks at Levi week to week? Of course not. Sure Howie is well respected and if he was in a film room week after week and then said Levi is fine, Id believe him. But he is not.

    Here is what my eyes saw. He was beaten badly 3 times and had to hold to stop a forth. Arians has admitted he had to pull people out of patterns and change his game plan to help chip and protect.

    In case you are not sure, That is really bad.

  8. By georgiebird on Sep 11, 2013 | Reply

    Disagree on the “Protection” article. There have been countless defensive players who have been double teamed over the past 50 years. The most notable was Lawrence Taylor who was also triple teamed by both SF and Wash among other teams. And Lawrence Taylor lost games because opposing offenses were able to find ways to beat the Giants.
    The problem is the Cardinals have a slow offense from the QB to the RBs to the WRs. Where are all the guys on our offense that require a defensive double team?
    The way Larry ran away from Troy Polamalu in the SB was the way Roy Green would run away from the fastest corners in the NFL. Roy Green may have modest records compared to guys today but Roy’s records were amassed under double and, at times, triple teaming. We have no players where the defense is afraid that a guys is going to catch a 10 yard pass and go for a TD. Larry is a special player but he’s no Roy Green-just ask HOF Bill Parcells..

  9. By John The Draft Guy on Sep 11, 2013 | Reply

    One more thing about the Levi effect;

    You may already know this, but a chip block is when a tackle takes a position to not get beat inside. The D-end is then chipped or hit by the back, to allow the tackle (who is already engaged) to be able to control the D-end from getting around him. This chip helps tackles from being beat by speed.

    Good ends will then use inside moves, power moves, or loop inside, while the DT goes outside to avoid the chips.

    Using a inline tight end to help is the classic double team where the tackle and TE both take on the end.

    In either case, it takes the back or TE away from other responsibilities. For instance, a good DCord, will know the cards will not roll the blocking to the left because the back would be responsible for back side blitzers, but since he has to help Levi, he can’t do that. So now the schemes for blocking change. If you see this, a DC will bring zone blitzes to the right side, knowing the back will not get back over to help, exposing Carson to blitzers.

    If Levi cant do his job, who knows how much this changes the game plan. Just understand that every offensive line has principles the lineman, TEs and backs follow. If they zone block and the call is rocket or to the right, depending on the scheme, the back has the backside or left. If they are blocking man, the back has the most immediate danger inside first then to the outside. If it is a 4 man rush, the back releases into his routes.

    But again, who has that blitzer if the back has to chip for Levi. Who is the outlet if the back has to help Levi. Cant run wheel routes with backs, and if the TE stays in to block, look for those safeties to help in the run game. His lack of success hurts the whole offensive scheme.

    So, did Levi lose the game? No. The lack of defensive pressure and a missed FG sure helped. But for a team built to score, you can see the ripple effect of Levi. That is why you are seeing very unhappy coaches and GMs.

  10. By georgiebird on Sep 11, 2013 | Reply

    Does PFF have a stat on how many times the QB bails out the LT by scrambling for a first down. If they do, I’d like to know how many bail outs Carson Palmer had in week one. And, also, how many bail outs did Kaepernick and Wilson have. (I realize you said Levi wasn’t among the worst by PFF.)

  11. By Darren Urban on Sep 11, 2013 | Reply

    Georgie —

    RE: PFF

    I do not know if they account for that in any way. Palmer did not have a rushing attempt last week.

  12. By georgiebird on Sep 11, 2013 | Reply

    The fact that Palmer didn’t have a rush in a way proves my point. With all the pass rushing, Palmer should have had a few rushing attempts.
    Palmer is a statue and as such has to subscribe to one of two ways to play QB
    1) Kevin Kolb method- sit in the pocket, shuffle your feet and HOPE.
    2) Kurt Warner method- throw the football before you’re sacked.

    Pick one

  13. By ored on Sep 11, 2013 | Reply

    still only 1 game,and the next one will present different problems.the coaches now have film to break down and the players can build on what went well,offense is now a factor.

  14. By the way...Dr. G. on Sep 11, 2013 | Reply

    Draft Guy… Yea, I am aware of most of the coaching scrambling needed to compensate for the LT weak link. Much of what I posted was light sarcasm and to illuminate the need for changing everything ‘cuz one man can’t get it done. Good detail from you.

    (The defense played well enough to win this game; they were put in bad position a bunch, they scored; had good stops etc. The last 90 seconds and a missed FG would not matter if the offense didn’t hiccup continually from the LT’s frivolity. The D needs to get better, but, we disagree on that one.

    When a man gets paid almost $400,000.00 for just one game, apx $6,600- for just one play, his employer should insist on immediate, effective production. That’s a lot of pancakes! Offense possession is about 30 minutes usually, and about half of that is just standing around. The actual active playing time is about 14 to 15 minutes. The mgmt/HC expects better execution. …Be well…

  15. By the way...Dr. G. on Sep 11, 2013 | Reply

    georgiebird…… I got this one….

    The job of the QB is to distribute the ball to “others” who can finish a play.. 99% of the time a QB runs results from a broken play. Short yardage and an occasional goal-line rush are some rare exceptions. It can also be an “option” play if no one is open. Palmer will be 110% effective if he has time to do his job. We have much better runners than him… If you like a running QB, some college teams will thrill you…. Be well….

  16. By Sean on Sep 11, 2013 | Reply

    Can’t blame BA, because Levi probably did look like an elite tackle in camp while he was going against Dockett! LOL

  17. By truths4all on Sep 11, 2013 | Reply

    Seriously, isn’t the same site that rated John Skelton and up and comer what was suppose to have a breakout year in 2012?

    And when that did not happen, they backpedal so hard, they crashed their site while denying their own prior predictions and postings?

    The fact they took it easy on Brown’s rating is proof they are not reliable and honest.

    And as much as Palmer did well in the first 3 quarters, you really have to work extremely hard at skewing your results to drive down Peyton Manning’s performance against the Ravens. Evidently, their formula does not place much value or weight on TD passes thrown.

  18. By John The Draft Guy on Sep 12, 2013 | Reply


    That’s funny

  19. By georgiebird on Sep 12, 2013 | Reply

    @ Dr G
    As usual, you missed the point here. I was not talking about running QBs but rather about PFF ratings. Will a LT with a QB who is mobile score better than a QB who is not mobile ??-all other things being equal.
    Everyone of Levi’s breakdowns is magnified because Palmer is so immobile. Not so with the LTs who block for mobile QBs.

  20. By sunday on Sep 12, 2013 | Reply

    Levi got beat couple time ok, This offence with last year diffence. Would have won Rams game. We lost because this diffence looked sorry compare to last hope is because its the first game.

  21. By the way Dr. G. on Sep 12, 2013 | Reply

    Georgie… the personal attack here is unnecessary… and the tangent you are on here is just bizarre:: eg… You defend that a good running QB should compensate for consistent poor LT play…broken plays… (not a good success formula).

    A QB running for his life will soon experience injuries and confidence issues. The Cards have seen that… Two of the best in the NFL, Vick, and RG III are told to chill… no more injuries…. Palmer was not signed to bail out the LT… he will not be criticized by BA for that.

    And please re-read the commentary by “truths4all” above…just ‘cuz someone is on the internet does not make them a credible expert all the time…. A nice day to you…

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