The term “sum of its parts” is usually the best way to evaluate a team’s offensive line. The best lines are those that play off each other’s strengths and weaknesses while creating a necessary cohesion more striking than any other unit on the team.
It’s also why it can be an exercise in futility to judge individuals on a line when those doing the critiquing are often clueless to what’s being required.
Cardinals left tackle D.J. Humphries strongly expressed his thoughts Monday during a videoconference with reporters. Humphries said, “I would tell them, ‘Watch the film,’” when asked what he would tell outsiders that were critical of the unit’s performance.
Later he was asked to comment on those that evaluate an individual lineman when they probably don’t know what the specific responsibilities were.
An energized Humphries said, “That's why I have such a hard time with outside PFF (Pro Football Focus) and stuff like that. So, how do you know that one's a negative? Maybe I wasn't supposed to block that guy. Maybe it's a trap. When you watch film, it's hard to break down when you don't have a football mind. When I say a football mind, I mean, when you're looking at a play you understand, 'OK,' this play is inside zone. You understand this play is stretch, this play is power just looking at the film. We have that ‘mind’ to understand that.
“Do I need to be looking for these two double teams and in zone I need to be looking at whatever they're moving on.Is there an angles match in the back? That's why you see players get so frustrated when they have to talk about plays and film with people who don't have a football mind. Where I can tell you on film truly what happened and what I was responsible for without you looking at me like I just spoke Spanish.”
So, D.J., for those breaking down film, what should they be looking for?
“Just look at the progression and technique that they're moving with," he said. "If they're moving efficiently, if they're making contact, and it looks like they're in a control position, and now they're moving their opponent in the direction that the ball should be going and match the angle of the back and where he's running. For the most part, you can tell when an offensive lineman is doing the job the right way.”
As for the Cardinals’ line, he acknowledged that “it's going to take a couple of years of proving people wrong for them to realize that it is what it is. We were in the top-5 in most of the rushing categories last year and showing the progression from the year before last to last year.”
Needless to say, Humphries is excited about what the group can accomplish in 2020.
“We've had so many interchanging parts throughout the last few years and so it’s great to finally get a group of guys that hone in on and learning the same thing from last year. We're not learning a whole new offense and everybody's just detailing the way that we do things.”