Cardinals' 2009 Tasks: Improve the Run Game

The first installment in a series of vital tasks for the Arizona Cardinals, Brad Wilbricht dissects the team's main nemesis from a year ago. Arizona had the worst rushing attack in the NFL and will be seeking enhanced results on the ground. The Cardinals are expected to be contenders for the second straight year but need to improve several areas in order to repeat their historic Super Bowl run.

Although the Arizona Cardinals featured one of the most potent aerial attacks a year ago, the team's running game was equally as bad. The Cardinals averaged a mere 74 yards per game on the ground, ranking 32nd in the league. Neither Edgerrin James nor Tim Hightower was able to establish consistency in the running game, forcing Arizona to rely on the pass for the majority of the year.

Hightower did manage to breathe life into the Cardinals' group of running backs, racking up 10 touchdowns during his rookie season. However, he managed only one regular season game over 37 yards and was held to just 2.8 yards per carry. James faired slightly better but was demoted to backup duties midseason. In total, James compiled 514 rushing yards while averaging 3.9 yards per attempt.

Arizona should benefit from stability along the offensive line as the entire starting lineup remains intact from last year. In addition, Russ Grimm was promoted to co-offensive coordinator and should bring a hard-nosed approach to the offense. Grimm and head coach Ken Whisenhunt have always valued a power running game and have made it no secret they intend to bring that mentality to the Cardinals.


Chris Wells
(Getty)

Along with more experience in the trenches, the Cardinals invested a first-round draft pick on RB Chris Wells. Wells, once considered a top 10 selection, ended up slipping to Arizona at pick No. 31. During his college career at Ohio State, Wells suffered through several nagging injuries and must stay on the field at the professional level. If he's able to shake the injury bug, Wells can develop into a game-changing back.

The Cardinals don't need one of the best rushing attacks in the NFL but they must do a better job of obtaining balance on offense. Along with wideouts Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald, QB Kurt Warner should take the majority of focus off the running game. However, if Arizona is unable to capitalize on their weapons through the air, the team's ground game will struggle mightily for the second consecutive season.


Questions or comments? Contact Brad Wilbricht at brad.wilbricht@gmail.com
or click here to access the AZRedReport.com message boards.

CardinalFootballTalk.com Recommended Stories


  • Peyton Manning emerged alone atop yet another category in the NFL record book tonight vs the Niners, as he tossed touchdown #509 under the national spotlight of Sunday Night Football (NBC). (Photo…

  • Former USC and NFL running back LenDale White added tons of drama to what was a relatively quiet Homecoming weekend for the Trojans.

  • Here’s a way to watch football and improve your golf swing at the same time. In your living room (or on the range), practice the one-minute golf swing, as shown in this video. Set the timer on your…

  • Dr. Roto, like many others, can't believe Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson (pictured above) passed for over 300 yards and rushed for over 100 yards in the same game. First time that's ever happened…

  • As soon as those winds fall off, get into the stand! I always tell people you can't kill them if you aren't out, but if you want to try and pick an opportune time – this is it.

Up Next


Forums


2 Fans online
    Join The Conversation

    Tweets