The Cardinals had — and still have — hope their run game can generate something good this season (although the loss of tackle Levi Brown, a very good run blocker, obviously hurts). They didn’t get enough production in the opener, clearly. Ryan Williams and Beanie Wells combined for only 23 yards on 15 carries.
“It wasn’t as much the running backs as it was one or two guys breaking down and not finishing a block the right way,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said.
What will be interesting is the next step, seeing that the next step comes in New England. The Patriots are coming off one of their best days ever as a running defense. They held the Titans’ Chris Johnson — the former NFL rushing champ — to a mere four yards on 11 carries. Overall, the Titans gained just 20 yards rushing on 16 attempts, and that includes 11 yards from scrambling quarterback Jake Locker. Now, the Titans were playing from behind, but still.
The scary part, although not unexpected, is that Patriots coach Bill Belichick wasn’t overwhelmed, noting that there were still breakdowns in certain plays that could’ve cost the Pats. They just didn’t.
“From a production standpoint, it was great but all the parts of the play didn’t necessarily always equal the final production,” Belichick said. “Like I said, eventually those things are going to show up.”
The last time the Cards faced the Patriots, in the snowy disaster of 2008, the Cards only rushed for 44 yards, but again, they got behind early and the run game was made moot. The game needs to stay close. And as Whisenhunt said, “you have to stay with it.”
Belichick kept praising the Cards’ run game Wednesday morning. “They have a lot of plays that, not that they’re rare, but you just don’t see as many scheme plays from most teams as what they run,” he said. “A lot of teams run a heavy amount of zone in the running game. These guys, Arizona, mixes that with scheme plays, gap plays, where they pull the guard, pull the tackle, pull the tight end, pull the fullback across the ball, or keep them all on the same side of the ball and run power-type schemes. The scheme part of it is hard because, again, they are very well coached. They have a good game plan. They do a good job of running plays, creating blocking angles, and they are tough for the defense.”
The Cards are hoping they can be much tougher on the Pats than what came down for both teams in Week 1.
Tags: Beanie Wells, Bill Belichick, Ken Whisenhunt, Patriots, Ryan Williams
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