Arizona Cardinals managing run game well with Chris Johnson
By Scott Allen
The Arizona Cardinals didn’t utilize running back Andre Ellington on Monday night until the second half
It was supposed to be a three-headed monster heading into the regular season for the Arizona Cardinals. However thanks to the performance of Chris Johnson so far this season, it has mainly become a one-man show every week.
Johnson, who had his third plus 100-yard game of the season this past Monday night against the Baltimore Ravens is third in rushing in the NFL. You have to believe not even the Cardinals expected that.
When they signed Johnson in the off-season, Johnson came in with the thought he would see plenty of playing time despite the Cardinals already having running backs Andre Ellington and rookie David Johnson on the roster. That was the main reason why Chris Johnson decided to come to Arizona was because he would be given a shot at good playing time.
Then Ellington went down in the first week against the New Orleans Saints and missed the next couple of games. Enter Chris Johnson. Johnson’s three 100-yard games already has eclipsed the Cardinals effort of just one such game in 2014.
When Ellington got healthy and returned against the Detroit Lions a couple of weeks ago, the was then what would the Cardinals do. As you’ve seen in Detroit and even more so against Baltimore, Ellington is not getting the majority of the touches.
Why would you hand the ball off or give touches to Ellington with Johnson as hot as he is? If you noticed, the Cardinals have saved Ellington for the second-half. He had a 63-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter against the Lions. It was one of just three touches that day.
Then against the Ravens, the Cardinals used Ellington in the fourth quarter with fresh legs. He provided a spark with those legs though. He carried the ball five times for 21 yards, a 4.2 yard-per-carry average and three receptions for 28 yards. It was the spell Johnson and the Cardinals needed.
Then there is David Johnson. He started off hot but has made some rookie mistakes and hasn’t seen the ball as much the past couple of weeks. He got just five touches against the Ravens.
All of this being said, it is nice to know the Cardinals have fresh legs late in games. Ellington though doesn’t seem to have instilled much confidence with coach Bruce Arians. He all but admitted this week they can’t trust Ellington to stay healthy. You can’t blame him and once again the Cardinals made the right call by bringing in a veteran back like Chris Johnson.