Arizona Cardinals: Why Bobby Massie Will Be Week 1 Starter at Right Tackle

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Arizona Cardinals: Why Bobby Massie Will Be Week 1 Starter at Right Tackle
Bobby Massie (70) will have every opportunity to win the starting RT job.

The Arizona Cardinals have had problems along the offensive line for years. That is nothing new. Its 54 sacks allowed in 2011 were No. 2 in the NFL. That is a well-known fact.

Fourth-round pick Bobby Massie was heralded as a potential second-round pick until he fell into the figurative lap of the Cardinals on Day 3 (figurative because if it were literal, there would have been some broken laps). Questions about his work ethic were perhaps the reason teams shied away early on, so his motivation will be trying to prove he was worth an early-round pick.

The 6’6”, 316-pound tackle was interviewed by Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com, and had this to say, “I have a chip on my shoulder. When it is time to hit, you’ll notice.”

Massie went on to say, though, that he doesn’t expect to be handed the job, and sounded as if he is not worried however it plays out.

“I am coming in humble,” he said. “There are a lot of things I have to learn. I’m not going to come in Day One as a starting tackle. I just want to learn from the guys and compete every day in practice. If I get the spot, I get the spot.”

His main competition for the starting right tackle spot is Jeremy Bridges.

Bridges, a 10-year veteran, is confident in his ability but also is aware of the situation.

“I just roll with the punches. That’s what I do,” he said. “That’s what being an athlete is all about. They draft a kid to look to the future—obviously—but what about the present? We have games to win; we are trying to win a championship. Upstairs they make their decisions and it is what it is, but 10 years later, I am proven, that’s all.”

Proven, yes. But proven to be what?

He certainly has not been Pro Bowl-worthy. He’s been serviceable (and I hate that word) in his time filling in for the now departed Brandon Keith, but not eye-popping in the slightest.

In 12 games last year, he allowed seven sacks and 26 total QB pressures in 319 pass-block snaps (via ProFootballFocus). He allowed one pressure every 12.27 snaps.

That’s better than Keith’s one in every 10.35 snaps, but still not very good.

Dallas Cowboys rookie right tackle Tyron Smith surrendered 30 QB pressures in 620 pass-block snaps, for a ratio of one pressure allowed every 20.67 snaps. And he didn’t even make the Pro Bowl, even though he should have. No right tackle made the 2012 Pro Bowl.

Tony Pashos of the Cleveland Browns allowed 22 QB pressures in 478 pass block snaps, for a ratio of one pressure every 21.73 snaps in 2011, and he’s not even on the Browns’ roster any longer.

Bridges believes he should start on the right side, and if the season were to start today, he very well should—based solely on a knowledge-of-the-scheme standpoint.

But Massie is quicker and more athletic than your average offensive lineman, and has been mistaken for playing other positions on the field. “Everybody always thinks I play D-end, something like that, or tight end,” Massie said. “People always tell me that.”

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He possesses great foot speed and lateral agility, making him a naturally adept pass-blocker. He will need to work on staying low in run protection, giving him better leverage against defenders, but overall he is probably better now than Bridges has ever been.

For now, he’s working with the second unit—behind Bridges—during organized team activities; however, the OTAs are non-contact and in helmets only. Head coach Ken Whisenhunt, though, sees the potential in Massie:

“But from what I have seen, he looks very athletic and his pass sets have been very good,” Whisenhunt said. “The key for him is being able to pick up the defenses, when right before the snap, that defensive end shifts down and the linebacker gets up on the ball, he’s got to know, does he follow the end? Does he stay with the linebacker? And with all that happening, he has to keep using [proper] technique.”

Despite Bridges being a “proven” veteran, Massie will come out of preseason as the No. 1 right tackle on the depth chart based on the rookie’s will and natural athletic ability. He is one who can be placed on the right side without having to worry about the quarterback’s front side for a long time.

And with the potential that Kevin Kolb and his cat-like skittishness wins the starting QB job in 2012, Massie will be a great asset for Arizona.

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