While addressing the media at the 2013 NFL Combine, newly-minted Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians touched on the state of the offensive line, which allowed a league-high 58 sacks throughout the 2012 season. Arians was upbeat, though, on the line, saying that he doesn't believe they are nearly as bad off as many believe they are.
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"I think there's talent there," Arians said on Thursday afternoon. "We had some young guys who got baptized last year, who got better as the season went on. It's not in near the dire straits that everybody wants to make it out to be."
Arians stated that the offensive line would look even better once starting left tackle Levi Brown returns from a torn triceps that placed him on injured reserve in August 2012. He also stated that the offensive line can't be held accountable for all of 58 sacks allowed in the 2012 season.
"There were a lot of sacks and the offensive line takes the blame for that," Arians said. "A lot of times, though, that's the quarterbacks and receivers. All 11 guys have a hand in a sack."
The 2012 Cardinals were one of only 20 teams since the AFL merger to start four quarterbacks in one season as Kevin Kolb, John Skelton, Ryan Lindley and Brian Hoyer all took a turn behind center. The Cardinals started the season with a 4-0 record before Kolb was injured in Week 6. However, they only won one more game throughout the rest of the season, finishing with a 5-11 record. The team's inability to move the ball down the field (they had the last-ranked offense in the league) and the offense's inability to protect the quarterback were directly responsible.
Arians was upbeat during his Combine press conference, though, saying that the 2013 NFL Draft class is rich with offensive linemen.
"Obviously this draft is pretty loaded with linemen on both sides of the ball," Arians said. "That's a good thing and we like that. I like our guys, though. I like where we are today, more so than where we were this time last year in Indianapolis. We've added some pieces of the puzzle."
When facing defenses like the Rams, 49ers and Seahawks, who are No. 1, No. 11 and No. 18 when it comes to sacking the opposing quarterback respectively, the Cardinals must improve their offensive line and the ability to keep the quarterback on his feet in order to be successful in 2013. Regardless of who the quarterback is, allowing 58 sacks is a recipe for disaster and will only aid in losing the quarterback to injury.
The Cardinals have the No. 7 overall selection in the upcoming draft and, according to SB Nation's Mocking the Draft's latest mock draft, they'll select Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel with their first-round pick.
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