Arizona Cardinals vs. Seattle Seahawks: The Beanie Wells Effect

Julian NikolovskiContributor IIISeptember 26, 2011

LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 18:  Running back  Beanie Wells #26 of the Arizona Cardinals rushes for a touchdown in front of defender Rocky McIntosh #52 of the Washington Redskins during the second half at FedExField on September 18, 2011 in Landover, Maryland. Washington defeated the Arizona 22-21.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Let’s face it; Beanie Wells has largely been mediocre throughout his career with the Arizona Cardinals. Widely regarded as the No. 1 running back in the 2009 NFL draft, Wells was supposed to be the missing piece to a pass-heavy Cardinals offense.

Yet Wells struggled with consistency, and he often found himself playing second fiddle to Tim Hightower. Despite amassing just 1,190 Yards in his first two seasons, there was still a belief that Wells could be a true "franchise running back" for the Cardinals, and over the first two games of this season, Wells began to show what he is capable of. The stat lines were as follows:

Arizona vs. Carolina – 18 Carries, 90 Yards (5.0 Avg.) and 1 Touchdown
Arizona at Washington – 14 Carries, 93 Yards (6.6 Avg.) and 1 Touchdown

After these impressive displays, it all of a sudden appeared as though Wells may well have found some consistency, and fans and coaches alike began to note his importance to the Cardinals football team. Yet it was not until yesterday’s game against Seattle, with Wells on the sideline with a hamstring injury, that his newfound importance to the team was truly apparent.

The Cardinals struggled immensely when it came to converting short-yardage plays, and this ultimately proved to be costly for the Cardinals. In fact, twice the Cardinals attempted to run the ball on 3rd-and1, and in each instance, Alfonso Smith could not get the first down, and they were forced to punt.

The first time, the resulting Seahawks possession led to a field goal, which they completed with 0:48 remaining in the second quarter. Had Wells been in the game, and had Wells converted the 3rd-and-1, then perhaps those three points that separated Arizona and Seattle would never have existed, resulting in a largely different game.

Then again, with 5:28 remaining in the third, Alfonso Smith was unable to take advantage of a pair of plays in which he needed just one yard to make the first down. This came at a critical time in the game, where an extended drive could have had a dramatic impact on the game. This drive was coming off the back of Tarvaris Jackson’s touchdown, and after those two stops by the Seahawks defense, you could feel the atmosphere erupt inside Qwest Field. If Wells was able to play, he could well have been able to convert on one of those plays, which would have gone a long way to silencing the crowd at Qwest Field.

The Seahawks defense truly stepped up under the support of its 12th man, and were its presence nullified by a successful third-down conversion, then perhaps Arizona’s offense could have enjoyed some success in the latter stages of the game.

Now, I am not definitively saying that Wells would have made these plays; rather, I am simply suggesting that with Wells on the field, the Cardinals would have been far more likely to complete these plays. While I was impressed with Smith, he is not the bruising back teams desire in those situations, and Wells could have made quite the difference were he fit to play in this game.

Hopefully Wells is ready and raring to go next week.