There’s a reason many NFL teams don’t want to play rookie quarterbacks.
But the Cardinals have taken the problems with protecting theirs to a ridiculous extreme.
When left tackle D.J. Humphries was lost for the rest of the season to a knee injury, he became their sixth offensive lineman to go on injured reserve this season. That includes the entire projected starting five on the offensive line, a trend that began when center A.Q. Shipley was lost for the year in a preseason scrimmage.
“We can’t worry about what we don’t have at this time of the year,” Cardinals coach Steve Wilks said, via Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic. “We just have to go out and execute.”
Of course, standing first-round pick Josh Rosen in front of a firing squad of replacement blockers might not be the best plan. Rosen has been sacked 26 times, including 23 in the last seven weeks.
So despite the fact that Shipley, Humphries, Justin Pugh, Mike Iupati, John Wetzel, and Jeremy Vujnovich are on IR, they’re proceeding as best they can. They also cut veteran tackle Andre Smith because he was playing poorly, continuing the revolving door.
For the record, their starting offensive line at the moment is as follows: Seventh-round rookie left tackle Korey Cunningham, sixth-round rookie left guard Colby Gossett (who they signed off the Vikings practice squad), third-round rookie center Mason Cole, journeyman right guard Oday Aboushi, and right tackle Will Holden, a second-year player who was in camp with them, was cut, and was on the Saints’ and Colts’ practice squads this year.
“They’ve been battling their butts off up front,” Rosen said. “It has not been a distinctive change with the amount of time I’ve had in the pocket. They’re playing really hard and playing really well. There’s not really much of a drop off.”
That’s nice of Rosen to say, as he stands in a position no rookie quarterback should have to endure. But it could be worse — Imagine being Sam Bradford behind such a group.