Arizona Cardinals Offense: Will It Improve with a Better Running Game?

Jesse ReynoldsContributor IAugust 14, 2012

KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 10:  Quarterback John Skelton #19 of the Arizona Cardinals hands off the ball to running back Alfonso Smith #46 of the Kansas City Chiefs during the first half on August 10, 2012 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)
Peter Aiken/Getty Images

It’s OK everyone, the sky isn’t falling.

Or, so we can hope...

So far this preseason, the Cardinal quarterback situation has been the dominating storyline for Cardinal fans. The defense, the health of the running backs and the play of the young core players are also important storylines, but they have only received an ounce of the attention the QB battle has gotten.

One topic that has seemingly gone unnoticed is how the Cardinals offense has been affected without starting running back Beanie Wells and the much-anticipated Ryan Williams, in the lineup. If you are the New Orleans Saints, how threatened are you by Alfonso Smith?

Apparently, they weren’t threatened at all and let the third-year, perennial practice-squad player, run for 46 yards on eight carries, including a six-yard TD scamper into the end zone. The same could be said for the Kansas City Chiefs. While everyone was lauding their run game, the Cardinals silently ran for 153 yards on 24 carries.

Break that down and the Cardinals ran for 6.4 yards a carry and one touchdown. William Powell, getting the start against the Chiefs, ran for 92 yards on nine carries, a 10.2 average, with a touchdown. Granted, 67 of those yards came on one carry. Smith came in after him and ran for 40 yards on nine carries, averaging 4.4 yards a carry.

What may surprise you is that the Chiefs ran for 166 yards on 41 carries. Despite some big runs, the Chiefs averaged 2.4 yards less per carry than the Cardinals. The Cardinals averaged an astounding 6.4 yards per carry.

Go back to the Saints game and the Cardinals rushed for 112 yards on 28 carries with one touchdown. The team averaged four yards a carry. To compare, the Saints ran the ball 32 times for just 82 yards, equaling a measly 2.6 yards per carry.

All of this was done with backup running backs. With Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams in the lineup, everything could change for the Cardinals offense. Teams will have to respect the run game of the Cardinals. The line has already proven it can run block. With good runners behind those blocks, it will be hard for teams not to respect the Cardinals' run game.

This weekend against the Oakland Raiders, Cardinal fans will finally have both running backs in the lineup. While both backs will not play extensively, or at all in Wells' case, their brief time on the field may give fans a glimpse of what the team’s offense could look like this season.

Hopefully with Wells and Williams running, the offense will look dang good.