One glaring difference from last year to this year on the positive end of the spectrum was a dramatic increase in production from the running game of the Arizona Cardinals in their Monday night loss. That’s right, today is about the good things our team did.
161 yards rushing for the Cards, about double what it was in the 2006 season opener. RB Edgerrin James looked solid and back to his old self, making the right cuts to find the open holes and running hard always fighting for more yards. He had 92 yards on 26 carries with 1 TD, but his numbers we’re affected by the Cards last offensive possession in which he rushed 3 consecutive times for -4 yards as the Niners stacked the box looking for the run.
I would have liked to see backup Marcel Shipp and WR Anquan Boldin get some more carries as they each had only one carry which went for 14 yards each time. Shipp is a great downhill, short distance guy who has shown that he can hit the holes really hard and pick up some good yardage. He has really responded to the new coaching staff and I think deserves a more active role rushing the ball. And I am a firm believer that anytime the Cards can get the ball into Anquan’s hands the better this team will do.
After last night’s performance, everyone who doubted Russ Grimm’s abilities to coach that line into a productive unit should now be silent. The Cards need to improve on their play calling, mixing up a few strech zone plays, iso plays with James and Shipp. And the line needs to cut out the false start penalties and mental errors! But I have a feeling that Coach Grimm has already addressed that in practice.
Bottom Line: The O-Line is worlds ahead of where it was last year and this has the potential to pay huge dividends as the season and the running game rolls on in 2007.