First quarter report cards: Arizona Cardinals offense - 2023

The early season has provided clarity on the strengths and weaknesses in the Arizona Cardinals offense.
Cincinnati Bengals v Arizona Cardinals
Cincinnati Bengals v Arizona Cardinals / Norm Hall/GettyImages
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James Conner, Deonte Banks
New York Giants v Arizona Cardinals / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

The running game is among the best in the entire league this season. James Conner has been a workhorse for the first five weeks, and Emari Demercado has been an underrated find for the Arizona Cardinals. Keaontay Ingram has been terrible, rushing for only 15 yards on 12 carries, but he will have an opportunity to right those wrongs in James Conner’s absence.

James Conner was not only aggressive running the football, he was also efficient. 5.4 yards per attempt on roughly 14 attempts per game is borderline superstar numbers. Of players to record at least 50 rushing attempts, only D’Andre Swift has a higher yards per carry. The fact that no other running back on the roster has come close to his efficiency metrics is an indicator that Conner cannot be written off as simply a product of his offensive line.  

Anyone thinking James Conner was washed up has been proven wrong and until the Bengals game there would be very little to criticize. Unfortunately, James Conner suffered a knee injury and was placed on short term IR, meaning he will miss at least the next four weeks. This is a setback for the Arizona Cardinals and also James Conner’s career. The injury-prone label has reared its head yet again and is a tough stain on an otherwise impressive career.

The players that the Arizona Cardinals will turn to are Emari Demercado and Keaontay Ingram. Demercado does not have good efficiency metrics running the ball, only achieving 3.4 yards per carry on 14 total carries. The undrafted rookie out of TCU has very little production through the air but his third down potential was one of his strengths entering the draft. In both the regular and preseason, he has showed enough shiftiness in open space that fans can expect him to be a weapon as a receiving back.

Keontay Ingram has failed to be an effective running back in the NFL so far. He is in his second season and has a career yards per carry of 1.9. If he looks good filling in for Conner it will be the first time he looks useable in his NFL tenure.

The Arizona Cardinals are going to have to replace the biggest strength of their offense. Stats do not indicate that void will be filled with the players they have on the roster. There may be little evidence supporting the running game being sustainable, but through the first quarter of the season one cannot ask for much more.

  • Grade: A