First glance at the box score from the Arizona Cardinals 27-24 victory over the Houston Texans on Sunday and you see the Cards rushed for 97 yards. Not great, they’ve had better Sunday’s. The leading rusher was Andre Ellington with 55 yards rushing.
A closer look though will tell the real story. The Cards are relying on Rashard Mendenhall still way too much. Mendenhall had two more carries than Ellington on Sunday. He had 13 while Ellington tallied 11. For a guy who just rushed for 154 yards in the last game, 11 carries is not nearly enough.
Call it how you see it. However from my vantage point it appears you have a running back that Cards head coach Bruce Arians favors over another. Mendenhall is his starter. The question that I ask and I’m sure many other fans are asking though is why? Mendenhall had another fumble at a crucial time of the game at a crucial part of the field. He fumbled at his own five yard line on the first play of the drive with 4:53 remaining in the game. Houston ended up scoring a touchdown to put them within three points.
Ellington averaged 5.0 yards a carry. Mendenhall just 3.2. The numbers don’t lie. Ellington is proving to be the better back here. I realize Mendenhall is on a one-year make good contract and Arians wants to give him every chance to make good. However isn’t also the job of the head coach to win games? Right now, Mendenhall is not helping the Cards win. Ellington seems to be holding up fine, so use him more.
Why not use Ryan Williams? No sense in continuing to keep him inactive. That’s a subject I’ve touched many times though, so I’ll leave it at that. Stepfan Taylor had just two carries on Sunday. Use him if you are worried about over-using Ellington. So, while I think the running game has shown signs of improvement, it still needs a lot of work.