Gandy vs. Bridges: Time For a Change?

Last week against the Vikings, backup Jeremy Bridges played masterfully against the vaunted defense of the purple and gold. Coach Whisenhunt has made it clear that injured players cannot lose their starting positions until after they have returned. Should this be the exception to the rule? Will Mike Gandy be sent to the bench in favor of Bridges? Tyson Qualls compares the two crafty veterans.

Mike Gandy:

Gandy has missed only one game since he arrived on the Cardinals team back in 2007. His durability is a key strength on an offensive line that struggled with injuries up until last season.

Sending Gandy to the bench could possibly not go well as he has started every game that he has played in since 2003. Coach Whisenhunt will certain give Gandy a chance to keep his position, but if Bridges solid play continues, there could definitely be some shuffling on the front lines.

One of Gandy's glaring weaknesses is his lack of focus during key points in the game. The 30 year old offensive lineman has already allowed six sacks and committed eight penalties for a total of 70 yards. That puts him on track to give up nearly 10 sacks in a season, the second worst clip of his career. He penalty rate is even worse, if he continues at this pace he will post a total that is double his previous career high.

Jeremy Bridges:

While Bridges performance sampling is significantly smaller than Gandy's, a lot can be drawn from his stellar performance against one of the NFL's toughest defensive lines. In his lone start this season, Bridges did not commit a penalty nor did he give up a sack against the likes of the Jared Allen and the Williams'.

It is unlikely that Bridges play is solely due to his physical talent. Otherwise he would have started more than five games in the past two seasons. Undoubtedly it was the schemes and preparation of Russ Grimm that also played a pivotal role in his success.

Bridges has displayed the ability to avoid costly penalties during his professional career, posting less than three per season in every year that he has played. In his only full season as a starter, Bridges gave up a respectable 6.5 sacks in 14 games. With the frailty of Kurt Warner, Bridges ability to keep the quarterback upright will outweigh most other concerns.

Bridges versatility could also help him break into the starting five. If he continues recent progress, it will not just be Gandy who will be looking over his shoulder. Highly touted first found pick Levi Brown has been flagged 10 times already this season.

Final Verdict:

Bridges showed a lot about his ability last week, but at age 29 his long-term upside is relatively similar to that of the 30 year old Gandy. The chances of him stealing a spot on the starting line are decent, but he will have to prove that the Vikings game was not a fluke. Most likely once Gandy returns he will remain the starter with Bridges filling in where necessary. If both players return for next season, expect a heated contest throughout training camp.

Questions or Comments? Contact Tyson Qualls at tysonqfantasyfootball@gmail.com
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