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Cardinals Offensive Line Keeping Kyler Murray Upright

Sack total has drastically decreased from a season ago

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray had a clean pocket in the regular season game against the New York Jets on Sunday, October 11, 2020.
QB Kyler Murray regularly had a clean pocket against the Jets.

Kelvin Beachum's chief goal is to keep Kyler Murray from getting knocked down, and the Cardinals' right tackle kept the Jets pass-rushers at bay on Sunday.

If only he could say the same for himself.

Murray was rarely on his back in the 30-10 win, but one time came at the expense of Beachum during an overzealous celebration following Chase Edmonds' first-quarter touchdown run.

The duo jumped up for a chest bump, and the 100-pound weight difference sent Murray crashing to the turf.

"Kyler is a sturdy little dude, so I thought it was going to be some solid contact and a great celebration," Beachum said with a smile. "I figure that will be on "Monday Night Football" for the wrong reasons."

While the celebration needs fixing, the Cardinals' pass protection does not.

Murray was only sacked one time in the contest, which has been the average over the past three games. He has been sacked eight times this year, a total in great contrast to the 21 he took in the first five games a season ago.

Before the season began, Murray wanted to see his 48 sacks as a rookie cut in half in Year 2. Through five games, the pace is close, as he is on track to take 25.6 sacks.

While Murray's elite scrambling ability has helped the cause, the offensive line has more than pulled is weight. According to ESPN's pass-block win rate, the Cardinals are the third-most effective team in the NFL at sustaining their blocks for 2.5 seconds, behind only the Packers and Browns.

Beachum said the start has been solid, but the line is not satisfied.

"Our standard is high, and it should be high," Beachum said. "This is a very potent offense, and if one of the key factors in our offense is making sure the quarterback is clean, we need to find a way to make sure our quarterback is clean. In that regard, we still have some work to do."

Beachum has done a nice job handling the right tackle position after projected starter Marcus Gilbert opted out of the season because of COVID-19. On the other side of the line, left tackle D.J. Humphries just finished with the top offensive grade of any NFL player in Week 5, per Pro Football Focus.

The next step is getting a more consistent ground attack rolling. Murray leads the league with 7.2 yards per carry, but starting running back Kenyan Drake is at a career-low 3.7 yards per tote.

ESPN has the Cardinals in the top-10 in run-block win rate, but Beachum wants the blockers to open up bigger holes for Drake and backup Chase Edmonds.

"We still haven't had one of our running backs rush over 100 yards," Beachum said. "That's an issue we need to get corrected. We need to find a way to get Kenyan over 100. We need to find a way to get Chase over 100. It's great that K1 is doing it, but we need to make sure we're providing that same level of explosion for our running backs as well."

Beachum knows Monday's matchup against the Cowboys is going to be tougher than the previous one with the Jets, as Dallas features talented edge-rushers DeMarcus Lawrence and Aldon Smith.

The hope is to keep them away from Murray – and when the Cardinals score, Beachum may want to do the same.

"A great thing to do is be able to celebrate with your quarterback, but I do have to take much better care of him in that particular regard," Beachum said.