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In-depth look at Cardinals' offensive line

Ben Muth grew up in Phoenix, played offensive tackle at Stanford and signed with the San Diego Chargers as an undrafted free agent. That makes him a good resource for assessing line play -- something Muth does in detail for Football Outsiders in this report on the Arizona Cardinals' front five in Week 2.

The points he makes affirm some of the things I did and did not notice. I didn't notice center Lyle Sendlein or right guard Deuce Lutui all that much. Both played well, Muth reported, and that would explain why they did not stand out unless one was watching them specifically. Both Arizona tackles struggled. Left guard Alan Faneca struggled some, particularly early, but improved as the game went along.

Muth makes interesting points on the roots of the Cardinals' problems in pass protection. He sees them as scheme-related, not just personnel related, and this jibes with one of the points coach Ken Whisenhunt has made after each of the first two games. The Cardinals are still adjusting to new quarterback Derek Anderson. Anderson doesn't get rid of the football as quickly as Kurt Warner did, putting additional pressure on protection schemes. Arizona probably has not found the right combinations yet. It's also true that Arizona's offensive tackles are not particularly good in protection -- especially in a tough environment on the road.

In charting personnel, I noticed the Cardinals using some unconventional groupings. They went with three running backs and two tight ends (running back LaRod Stephens-Howling would line up as a wide receiver). They went with two tight ends and three wide receivers. These are combinations rarely seen in the NFL and I've seen virtually no evidence, including from previous seasons, that the Cardinals are going to make them work. These account for only a few plays. There were bigger problems elsewhere.

Anderson must be able to trust his receiving targets against the blitz. Stephens-Howling was late turning back to the ball on one incomplete pass. When Stephens-Howling did look back against a different blitz, Anderson found him quickly. Stephens-Howling made a linebacker miss, gaining 8 yards on second-and-6. The Cardinals have also been playing with rookie wideouts.

This offense is a work in progress. Getting a home game against a shaky Oakland team will help.