Cardinals are in trouble without Mike Iupati

Arizona will likely be without its best offensive lineman for the first month of the season.

| 2 years ago

Cardinals are in trouble without Mike Iupati

In 2014 Arizona had one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL. The team averaged 1.5 yards before contact per carry, which was fourth-worst in the league. All three interior linemen were among the four worst players at their position in terms of how much pressure they allowed.

The additions of left guard Mike Iupati, center A.Q. Shipley and first-round rookie offensive tackle D.J. Humphries were supposed to help turn the line around, but Iupati was the most important acquisition of them all. He was entering the 2015 season with our third-highest run-blocking rating among left guards, and in the Cardinals’ first preseason game, he was the only starting lineman to receive an above-average overall grade.

That’s why the news Wednesday that he will miss at least the first month of the season after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery is a significant blow to the Cardinals’ O-line.

The Cardinals have few options to replace Iupati. The most likely one is giving Ted Larsen his starting job back at left guard. In 2014 he allowed 15 combined sacks and hits, which was the most among all NFL guards. His negative grade in the first preseason game, while playing with the second tem, wasn’t promising.

They could also move Shipley to left guard and move Lyle Sendlein back into the starting lineup at center. But Sendlein was our second-lowest-graded center in 2014, and Shipley throughout his career has played better at center than guard, so that also doesn’t look like a great option.

Once Iupati is back, this could be the best offensive line Arizona has fielded in a long time. But until then, it could be a rough September.

| Director of Analytics

Nathan has been with Pro Football Focus since 2010. He is the Director of Analytics, an NFL analyst, and a fantasy writer.

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