With the running game of the Arizona Cardinals going by the wayside the offense may now become pass-happy again
Very rarely during the history of the Arizona Cardinals were they viewed as a strong rushing offense. For whatever reason, the club’s 1000-yard rushers were few and far between. More often than not the team would have to do it’s damage through the air.
That was still the case when Bruce Arians took the reigns in 2013. Running backs such as Rashard Mendenhall, Andre Ellington, Jonathan Dwyer, Marion Grice and Stepfan Taylor contributed with moderate success. Improvement was needed to make the offense complete.
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Steps in the right direction were taken in 2015. The club acquired free agent Mike Iupati, one of the best run-blocking guards in the NFL.
The draft provided unheralded running back David Johnson, who’s already approaching stardom. Veteran back Chris Johnson also joined the nest late in the summer.
The front office didn’t stop there. This past offseason produced free agent Evan Mathis, perhaps the best run-blocking guard in the league. All signs were pointing to a run game built for success in 2016.
Through the first seven games it was living up to it’s promise. David Johnson assumed the role of a workhorse. He tallied 681 yards on 146 carries with eight touchdowns, averaging 4.7 a tote.
The last two games have raised red flags however. Johnson amassed just 79 yards on 29 carries, a measly 2.7 yards a carry. Holes for Johnson to run through have been almost nonexistent.
Injuries have had a huge impact. Two of the Cards’ starting offensive lineman have landed on injured reserve. Mathis succumbed to an ankle injury and left tackle Jared Veldheer suffered a torn triceps.
Not being able to run the ball has put added pressure on quarterback Carson Palmer and his pass-catchers. It also creates an inability to control the clock, meaning the defense may spend more time on the field. Unless the running game improves, the Arizona offense will revert back to the one-dimensional one it’s been in the past.