Does Revived Run Game Cast Doubt on Andre Ellington?


The Cardinals ground game has been more effective without Andre Ellington in the past two games than it had been with him in the previous eleven. Does this mean that he was the problem all along?

Despite the fact that the NFL has unquestionably become a passing league, rushing the football still remains an important facet of good football teams.  For the Cardinals, the ground game has been their achilles heel. The team ranks 28th in the NFL with 84.4 rush yards per game.

More from Cardinals News

The Cardinals have lived without the running game for a while. In the season where they made it to Super Bowl XLIII, they ranked last in rushing. That said, since Kurt Warner has opted not to return , the Cardinals will need the rushing game to be effective to compensate for less quality quarterback play.

The Cardinals lead running back, Andre Ellington, has been moved to Injured Reserve with a hip pointer. Left in his place were backup Stepfan Taylor, and former practice squad member Kerwynn Williams. Strangely, they have been very productive in the past two games, primarily Williams.

Andre Ellington’s season ended with him 201 attempts for 606 yards (3.3 YPC). People expected a lot more from him, but his season was a definite disappointment. Kerwynn Williams has played in two games, with 34 carries for 175 yards (5.1 YPC). The ground game has been noticeably more effective with Williams in the driver’s seat.

The casual observer might be asking if Ellington was the thing holding back the ground game, given how suddenly and immediately things improved when he was deactivated.

One of the biggest factors is Ted Larsen moved to right guard. Since then, he has had positive run grades of 2.9 and 2.4, per Pro Football Focus. The Cards offensive line has done far more to open lanes, and they deserve credit for making Williams’ path easier than Ellington’s.

His foot injury also hobbled him. Ellington had a torn tendon in his foot that never fully healed, and it held him back from practicing. That said, he didn’t always make the best run decisions while he was playing. Often times, he would run outsdie instead of taking inside contact and fighting through it.

The Cardinals revived run game comes at when it is desperately needed, and when Ellington returns, he should and will be seeking some redemption. However, he still seems like the long term feature back, though Taylor and Williams add needed deth at the most critical of times.