Ranking the Running Game, Part 14: Arizona Cardinals
Part 14 of a 32 part series, a running back position analysis of each franchise. The Arizona Cardinals managed to avoid a losing record for only the third time since moving to the desert from St. Louis 20 years ago. The Cardinals finished 2007 in 2nd place in the division with an 8-8 record. The Cardinals entered the off-season with a genuine sense of optimism and enthusiasm. The Cardinals like their draft position this off-season, not in the top 10. Their record of picking in the top 10 has not been great & those hefty contracts have put dents in the salary cap while limiting the teams’ options in free agency. Matt Lienart will be the starter at QB and has to show the maturity needed to lead a team, the coaches will push him this off-season. The Cardinals as a team rushed for 90 yards per game.
Edgerrin James 6’ 0” 220 lbs. 324 Att. 1,222 Yards 3.8 YPC Avg. 7 TD’s
Marcel Shipp 5’ 11” 232 lbs. 15 Att. 41 Yards 2.7 YPC Avg. 1 TD
J.J. Arrington 5’ 9” 218 lbs. 26 Att. 78 Yards 3.0 YPC Avg.
Steve Baylark 6’ 0” 225 lbs. Rookie free agent from Massachusetts
Edgerrin James is highly regarded by the coaching staff but the hard truth is that he isn’t a good fit for the system Coach Whisenhunt prefers. He is more of hunt & peck runner who is great at avoiding tackles in the backfield but doesn’t break many 20+ yard runs or break tackles at the second level with consistency. James ran for more yardage than anyone in the teams’ history in Arizona. Coach Whisenhunt would prefer a power running game running the ball 55-60 % of the time like the offense he coordinated in Pittsburgh and a back capable of producing long gains of 15-20 yards consistently. James has only four runs of 20 yards of longer, with a long gain of 27 yards. To his defense the offensive line play hasn’t been stellar and his hunt & peck style could’ve been due to a lack of daylight to run toward. His backups Marcell Shipp J.J. Arrington aren’t perfect fits for the system either. The Cardinals have a need to draft a running back in this draft; Jonathan Stewart & Rashard Mendenhall are good fits in the 1st round if a running back is selected. Leonard Pope showed a lot of improvements in his 2nd season before suffering a dislocated ankle injury. Ben Patrick a rookie out of Delaware ended up as the starter and showed good signs in the passing game.
The questions for the Cardinals: Will the Cardinals use the first three draft choices to fill needs on the defensive side of the ball? Now that Fitzgerald is resigned at a more cap freindly figure is a new contract in the works for Anquan Boldin? Will the Cardinals add a blocking TE?
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