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Who is Protecting Kyler Murray?


Kyler Murray is set to make his 2023 debut on Sunday against the (4-5) Atlanta Falcons. This game is probably the most anticipated match-up of a 1-8 team vs a 4-5 team in NFL history. That is all due to Murray’s return. Murray can’t have a good debut with being properly protected.

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The offensive line has not looked great in the first nine games of the season. Joshua Dobbs was sacked 17 times in the first eight games. Clayton Tune was sacked seven times in his only start. They have given up a total of 24 sacks which is tied ninth most in the NFL. This is not all on the offensive line. The quarterback is responsible for getting rid of the ball on time or leaving the pocket when necessary.

The Atlanta Falcons are one of the best teams in the NFL at generating pressure on opposing teams. They pressure the quarterback on 27.7% of their defensive snaps which if fourth best in the NFL. Who are the offensive lineman who will try to keep Murray upright?

The Tackles

The blind side of a right handed quarterback is the left side. This is why the best offensive lineman in the league are usually left tackles. They are usually the most athletic guys on the line. The starting left tackle for the Cardinals is D.J. Humphries. He is currently listed as questionable for Sunday’s game with an ankle injury. If the 2021 Probowler isn’t available. The next man up will be veteran Kelvin Beachum.

Beachum is now in his 12th season after being selected in the seventh round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He started all 17 games for the Cardinals last season. Beachum is definitely capable of doing a good job as the left tackle. If it’s not Beachum, Arizona may move rookie Paris Johnson Jr to left tackle.

Johnson has played right tackle for the entire season and has lived up to the expectations as the sixth overall pick. He has eight penalties but has only given up three sacks. This is very impressive for a rookie.

The Interior

The interior of the offensive line is very important as no quarterback likes pressure that comes right up the middle. Both guards Trystan Colon and Will Hernandez are questionable going into Sunday. Colon has played 128 snaps so far this season and has only given up one sack. Hernandez has played 569 snaps so far this season and has committed one penalty while only giving up two sacks.

If Colon and Hernandez are not able to play the guys who are set to step up are Dennis Daley and Carter O’Donnell. Daley is in fifth season in the NFL. Last season Daley started 15 games for the Tennessee Titans. He gave up a league leading 12 sacks last season. O’Donnell is a big unknown as he has only played in one game during his career. Another player who could start at guard is the backup center Doug Kramer. Kramer has also only played one game so far in his career.

The starting center for the Cardinals is Hjalte Froholdt. Froholdt has played 577 snaps so far this year. He has committed five penalties and given up one sack. The 2019 fourth round pick has been having a really good year.

The center and tackle positions seem to be solid going into this game but the guard positions are were the line may be the weakest. If Dennis Daley and Carter O’Donnell have to play due to injury, Murray’s mobility will be tested early and often as the Falcons create pressure up the middle.

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