Arizona Running Game Producing Little Results

RB Tim Hightower (Getty)

While Kurt Warner and company have been tremendous all year long, Arizona's running game has been equally disappointing. The Cardinals have aspirations for a deep playoff run, but their lack of success on the ground could lead to an early postseason exit. Brad Wilbricht takes a look into the team's struggles what may be in store for the remainder of the season.

Although the Cardinals are racking up over 300 yards per game passing, they're managing only 81 yards per contest on the ground. Following RB Tim Hightower's 109 yards rushing in Week 9 against the St. Louis Rams, Arizona has been held to less than 50 yards rushing in two of the past three weeks. Furthermore, the Cardinals' leading rusher has been limited to 60 yards or less in eight of 11 games this season.

Despite being benched in favor of Hightower, veteran RB Edgerrin James continues to lead the team in rushing. James has rushed for 384 yards on 112 carries and has reached pay dirt three times. James' playing time has taken a substantial hit in recent weeks as he's totaled only 4 yards on four carries during the Cardinals' previous three games.

While James has openly voiced his opinion since being demoted, he has yet to become a distraction in the locker room. Stories have surfaced regarding James' request to be released but he remains supportive towards his teammates and the coaching staff. Given Hightower's struggles since being inserted into the starting lineup, James may receive more opportunities to contribute down the stretch run of the regular season.

Hightower was outstanding on a situational basis during the first half of the season, but he's managed only 78 yards on 2.2 yards per carry over the last three weeks. On the year, he's rushed for 320 yards and has a long run of 30 yards. Hightower continues to thrive near the goal line as he's rushed for a team-high nine touchdowns on the year.


RB J.J. Arrington
(Getty)

Backup RB J.J. Arrington has recently emerged as a terrific weapon on special teams and has been utilized several times out of the backfield in the passing game. Nonetheless, his production in the running game remains insubstantial.

The Cardinals' offensive line has performed admirably in pass protection, limiting their opponents to only 19 sacks. However, they've been unable to consistently open holes on the ground as the team is averaging just 3.3 yards per attempt. Russ Grimm's unit has showed improvement from last season but must continue to progress, particularly in between the tackles.

Looking ahead at the Cardinals' schedule, they should find success on the ground against divisional foes St. Louis and the Seattle Seahawks. The Rams are currently ranked 30th in the NFL allowing 162 yards per game on the ground while Seattle is giving up 122 yards per contest. Arizona rushed for a season-high 176 yards in Week 8 against St Louis but was held to just 76 yards in their first matchup against Seattle.

The Cardinals' remaining non-divisional opponents will prove to be much more difficult going up against the Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings and New England Patriots. Minnesota currently has the second ranked run defense and is limiting its opponents to 70 yards per outing. Furthermore, Philadelphia and New England are both ranked in the top half of the league allowing 100 yards per game.


Brad Wilbricht can be contacted at brad.wilbricht@gmail.com

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