Although the defense may have received the most flak for the 41-7 pounding at the hands of the Falcons, the offense was just as ineffective. A lot of the problems stemmed from the offensive line’s very poor play, especially Anderson’s blind side.
Derek Anderson‘s current troubles is the hot topic regarding the Cardinals’ offense, but the offensive line hasn’t given the struggling quarterback a very easy task or even a fighting chance at times.
Levi Brown, the biggest culprit so far this season, continues to leave so much to be desired from a “franchise” tackle. Since Brown’s arrival in Arizona, he’s been a perennial disappointment, but for lack of a better option he’s continued to start for the Cardinals. Last Sunday, Brown turned in one of his poorest performances to date. Aside from allowing a sack, Levi alone was responsible for an astonishing eight quarterback pressures, all of which came from Anderson’s blind side.
Continuing down the line from left to right, Alan Faneca also had a very poor performance. Faneca’s veteran presence was supposed to provide the Cardinals’ line with a boost, but it’s starting to appear that the Jets may have made the right choice in letting him go. Jonathan Babineaux absolutely manhandled Faneca on a consistent basis last week. Babineaux compiled one sack, one quarterback hit, and two quarterback pressures.
Against Atlanta, Anderson dropped back 33 times and from the left side alone he was pressured 10 times and hit 3 times, including both sacks allowed by the Cardinals. In other words, 40% of the time Anderson dropped back to pass he was directly impeded by pressure allowed by either Brown or Faneca.
Veteran center Lyle Sendlein, on the other hand, had a near perfect day of pass protection against the Falcons. He allowed zero quarterback pressures, hits, and sacks. He’s without question the most reliable lineman the Cardinals have.
Right guard Deuce Lutui and right tackle Brandon Keith both have their lapses, but their play has been quite solid, surprisingly enough. Lutui showed up for camp late and very overweight and this is Keith’s first year as a starter in the NFL. In fact, Keith sprang Tim Hightower‘s 80-yard touchdown run with a terrific pull, mauling Falcons’ LB Curtis Lofton in the process. Despite these long odds, the right side of the line has far outplayed the left side in the first two weeks. There’s no question, however, that the unit as a whole must improve drastically if Anderson’s play is to improve. It seems axiomatic that you can achieve latter without the former.