Sep 15, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Detroit Lions cornerback Bill Bentley (28) misses a tackle on Arizona Cardinals running back Rashard Mendenhall (28) during the first half at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
He won’t blow you away with 150 or 200 yards a game like an Adrian Peterson can. However, Arizona Cardinals running back Rashard Mendenhall is quickly showing his value to a Cards offense that desperately needed a balance. As much as we talked about the poor passing game of the Cards last season, the running game wasn’t much better.
In 2012 the leading rusher for the Cards was LaRod Stephens-Howling, not your every down backs. He led the team with 356 yards. Mendenhall already has 121 through the first two games at a 4.1 per carry average. I’m not a mathematician but I’m pretty sure 4.1 yards per carry will get you first downs more often. His 16 carries for 66 yards was impressive in Sunday’s 25-21 victory over the Detroit Lions.
What it does is it brings balance to an offense. Last season the Cards were 28th in the NFL in rushing. Through the Sunday’s day games of week two, the Cards are 19th. They don’t have numbers that will knock your socks off but Mendenhall is a drastic improvement. As long as he stays healthy, he should be good for 60-100 yards a game. That’s all the Cards need. With a professional quarterback now behind center in Carson Palmer, the Cards don’t need to run the ball more often. They just need a running game to open up the passing attack. Mendenhall is doing that so far in a year he is on a “make good” contract. He is on a one-year deal. If he keeps this up and stays off the injury report, he’ll be around for awhile.