Arizona Cardinals should have went with a running back committee since Week 1

With James Conner having never made it through a full season, the Arizona Cardinals should have rolled with a running back committee since Week 1.
Dallas Cowboys v Arizona Cardinals
Dallas Cowboys v Arizona Cardinals / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

James Conner carried the rock 68 times before he went down with a knee injury this season. And while he was an effective back, we also know he’s been injury-prone long before his days with the Arizona Cardinals

Going back to Conner’s rookie season in 2017, he’s played in 83 of a possible 102 games, counting the four upcoming contests that he will miss. This means Conner has only seen time in 81.3% of all possible regular season games, and that number could further decline if he misses more than the initial games that he will spend on injured-reserve. 

Arizona Cardinals should have gone with a running back committee all along

Thanks to the pedestrian numbers Emari Demercado put up until last week and Keaontay Ingram’s uninspiring stats, you may think that these are a pair of ineffective backs. However, stats don’t tell you everything, as the duo’s respective running grades per PFF point out. 

Although he has a small sample size, Ingram’s 68.8 running grade is nothing to scoff at, nor is Demercado’s 71.9 grade in the same category. This shows us that their meager numbers are more on bad run blocking than it is on their inability to get positive yards. Meaning they would have likely been just as effective running the football more with Ingram and Demercado in addition to Conner, which, by extension, may have better preserved the star running back. 

This isn’t to say Conner wouldn’t be on injured-reserve had the Arizona Cardinals chosen to go with a committee. But if we’re judging from PFF grades, Ingram and Demercado likely would have at least minimized the risk of the Redbirds star back from missing an extended period of time. 

Perhaps Ingram and Demercado will prove themselves tomorrow when the Cardinals square off against the Rams. If they do, and if they can remain consistent, then there is no reason to not roll with a running back committee when Conner sees the field again. 


(Statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference; Player grades provided by PFF [subscription])