The addition of running back Rashard Mendenhall via free agency. The addition of running backs Andre Ellington and Stepfan Taylor via the draft. The retention of Alfonso Smith from last season. All were decent moves by the Arizona Cardinals in the offseason. It was a position that needed attention and honestly given what was available to them, the Cards really couldn’t have done better. The biggest disappointment has been Ryan Williams, who has still yet to be active for a game this season.
This past Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers though, the Cards running game regressed a little bit. Some of that had to do with the flow of the game but some of it had to do with the effort of Mendenhall and lack of use of Smith. Ellington had a number of touches but most of those were receiving balls. He needs to be used more as a back.
Mendenhall fumbled on consecutive plays, getting the first one back but losing the second one. Not a good sequence for the veteran. He only ended up with 21 yards on 12 carries. That isn’t acceptable. This is after efforts of 9 carries for 29 yards and 15 carries for 66 yards the past two weeks. He’s averaging just 3.4 yards a carry. The big deal here though is he started with 60 yards in the opener, then 66 but then 29 and now 21 yards respectively the last two weeks. Something isn’t clicking.
Ellington had just four carries on Sunday but gained 29 yards, a 7.3 yard average. That’s something I can get on board with. He’s not the every down back but he’s a guy you have to give more touches to on the ground, not just in the air. For some reason though the Cards have stopped using Taylor and Smith, so I don’t know what’s up there? As for Williams, I’m beginning to wonder why the Cards kept him in the first place?
They have better personnel a the position this year, so why not use them? I fear it won’t be pretty this week against a stellar Carolina Panthers defense and then facing San Francisco and Seattle. The running game, or lack thereof, could be something we talk about a lot in the month of October.