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Two Different Paths To The QB

Rising pass rushers Acho and Schofield mesh well despite differences


Linebackers Sam Acho (94) and O'Brien Schofield (50) each came up with sacks in Baltimore.

One gets called a lawyer, or "the Allstate insurance guy," because of the button-down way he will dress and the way he's always in a book – these days, a playbook – studying.

The other has modeled the Schohawk hairstyle and put together his own hard-core rap album.

It has a sitcom feel, this relationship between young outside linebackers Sam Acho and O'Brien Schofield. "Sam is the good guy, know what I am saying?" Schofield said. "If we did good cop, bad cop, I'll just be the bad cop. My personality, I'm a little more versatile."

That doesn't even take into account Acho's lengthy academic resume and constant praise from coaches, like when defensive coordinator Ray Horton emphatically called Acho "brilliant" earlier this year. Schofield brings this point up himself.

"Everybody says Sam is the brain guy, so I'm like, 'Damn, so then I'm stupid?' " Schofield says, smiling and laughing as he does.

Reality says there are plenty of parallels between the two, not the least of which is the Cardinals' need for both to develop into starters. Joey Porter and Clark Haggans, the two veterans who have been starting for the Cards the past season-and-a-half, are nearing the end of their respective careers. Pressure on the quarterback hasn't come consistently enough from either.

Acho and Schofield each notched sacks Sunday in Baltimore, the first time of what is hoped is many. In significantly less playing time this season, Acho (two sacks) and Schofield (1½) have surpassed Porter and Haggans (one sack each).

Their playing time will only continue to increase.  

"Those guys got a lot of energy," defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said. "They believe in themselves."

Acho's intelligence speeded up his learning curve, although he is loath to talk about himself much. He instead turning to clichés about it's always for the team and it's all about winning – something Acho completely believes.

"It's the truth," Acho said. "It comes down to wins and losses. You have to find a way."

If Schofield and Acho can begin to make the impact for which everyone is waiting, the Cardinals can make headway on their record.

"We know the talk is that we are the future," Schofield said. "We're just trying to hold ourselves to a high standard. Joey and Clark have had great careers and we know when we get opportunities like we did Sunday, we can fill in and create pressure and be playmakers."

Linebackers coach Matt Raich doesn't see a big difference between the two. "At the end of the day," he said, "they both ask a lot of questions and it doesn't get too quiet in our room."

Keeping it lighter is important to both of them. Acho has "jokes for days," Schofield said. Acho will reiterate his "wins and losses" comment, but note that football is a game and both want to keep it fun, for both themselves and their teammates.

Then again, there are enough differences. Acho said he's happy with his hairstyle and won't try Schofield's Mohawk – the "Schohawk." Acho said he needs Schofield's help to step up his freestyle rap, and might take a turn in Schofield's recording studio – or maybe not.

Acho is Schofield's go-to man when there is a question on the field, because Acho always knows the answer. Once in a great while, Acho has to check with Schofield, much to Schofield's delight, because "sometimes it's a little one-sided."

They're not part of a TV show, and they still have to prove they can be the future. But whatever path each man has taken to get here, Acho and Schofield mesh well, and hope that means something to their team.

"Look, it's a serious business, but if you're not having fun it's going to be miserable, especially in a time like this when you are 1-6," Schofield said. "You have to appreciate the fact we are in the NFL and playing the game we love."

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