Breaking down Mendenhall’s debut

Posted by Darren Urban on August 18, 2013 – 6:32 pm

The Cardinals got Rashard Mendenhall on the field for the first time Saturday and got a little taste of what their starting running back would look like. It turned out OK. Mendenhall gained 32 yards on seven carries, and for a guy who has a reputation for getting better as his carries move along, that 4.6-yard average was encouraging.

A look at Mendenhall’s seven carries (and a couple of other plays in which Mendenhall was meaningful):


1st and 10, AZ 20 – With three tight ends in the game for the first offensive play of the day, left guard Jonathan Cooper pulls right and tight end Jim Dray also pulls from the same side. There is no real running room as Mendenhall gets to the right tackle area, and Mendenhall loses a yard.


1st and 10, DAL 22 – Two wide receivers, two tight ends. The Cards come off the ball straight ahead. Tight end Rob Housler manages a decent block to pinch a Dallas defender into the line as Mendenhall goes behind the block and hit apparent daylight – except linebacker Sean Lee, diving, gets enough of Mendenhall’s foot and leg to trip him up so he gains just five yards.


1st and 15, AZ 6 – One tight end and three wide receivers. After a holding penalty, With Mendenhall the lone guy deep in the backfield (actually in the end zone), he gets a delayed handoff. He’s nearly tackled at the goal line by charging Dallas defensive end DeMarcus Ware but Mendenhall escapes. Unfortunately, it slows him down enough that the Cowboys collapse, and Cooper is unable to hold off defensive end George Selvie as Selvie tackles Mendenhall after a one-yard gain.

1st and 10, AZ 26 – Two tight ends, although Housler is playing fullback. He and wide receiver Michael Floyd are the key blocks as Mendenhall heads over the Cooper/Levi Brown area on the left side for seven yards.

1st and 10, DAL 26 – Two tight ends lined up on the left. Floyd comes in motion from the left wide to come in tight on the left end of the line. Mendenhall grinds out three yards up the middle with the Cowboys not really giving any room.

2nd and 7 DAL 23 – Three wide receivers. Cards block hat-on-hat. Housler at tight end does OK on his block on the right side. WRs Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Roberts do a nice job on the right side too, and Mendenhall goes over right tackle for six yards.

3rd and 1 DAL 17 – On a short play, rookie running back Stepfan Taylor lines up as a fullback in the offset I with Mendenhall. Taylor gets the handoff as the up back for a two-yard gain.

4th and 2, DAL 7 – The Cardinals call a perfect play-action pass on fourth down. Mendenhall slips into the flat wide-open for what should be an easy first down. Quarterback Carson Palmer is pressured, but the underthrown ball at Mendenhall’s feet is a disappointing end to the play. Incomplete.


1st and 10, AZ 4 – Three wideouts and a tight end. Mendehall is four yards deep in the end zone. Cooper pulls again (see a trend?) and seals linebacker Brandon Magee to create a hole near right tackle. Fitzgerald has a nice second-level block on the defensive back. Mendenhall breaks a tackle and has good power on the finish, driving for a first down.


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Posted in Blog | 11 Comments »

11 Responses to “Breaking down Mendenhall’s debut”

  1. By alexmannsportskings on Aug 18, 2013 | Reply

    Darren… JUST five yards?

    Compare that to last year and that’s like… The longest run any of our backs ran for!

  2. By georgiebird on Aug 18, 2013 | Reply

    RH was a bright spot. Given his lack of practice time, he was probably the best Cardinals’ player on Saturday.

  3. By chrisinbuckeye on Aug 18, 2013 | Reply

    that last entry:
    3 wides, 2 TE (that’s 5)
    Mendenhall (6)
    Palmer (7)

    that leaves 4 offensive lineman?

  4. By Darren Urban on Aug 18, 2013 | Reply

    chrisinbuckeye —

    RE: Typo

    Whoops. One tight end (Housler).

  5. By jeffgollin on Aug 19, 2013 | Reply

    Maybe it’s just me, but it seems as though both Carson and Drew could do a better job of disguising their handoffs and play action fakes – especially on zone stretch running plays. To your knowledge, is this an area of concern?

  6. By Darren Urban on Aug 19, 2013 | Reply

    Jeff —

    RE: Disguising handoffs

    I haven’t heard anyone say anything about that.

  7. By tyman on Aug 19, 2013 | Reply

    Mendenhall looked like a top five back in the Cowboy game.
    Steelers are dumb to let him go.

  8. By Dynosoar on Aug 19, 2013 | Reply

    Here’s a blast from the past. Max Hall played as the starting QB for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the CFL last Friday night.

    In a 37-18 loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Hall went 18-for-30 for 241 yards. He also threw his first CFL touchdown, along with a couple of interceptions.

    While I liked Max Hall, I like Palmer and Stanton so much more. Enjoying this year so far and really excited about our first Super Bowl win next February. (I know predictions are just pie in the sky, but I really like pie. I always have birthday pie instead of cake)

  9. By red bird of death! on Aug 19, 2013 | Reply

    Good for Max Hall, now never mention his name again on this blog please.

  10. By Coach K on Aug 20, 2013 | Reply

    Palmer needs to work on his short passing game. What the hell is he doing out there?

  11. By Chuck 1 on Aug 21, 2013 | Reply

    At the risk of ticking off red bird of death!, Max Hall is an example of choosing a player because (for one reason) that he is a “local boy (SW U.S.)”.
    I’ve NEVER subscribed to that criteria.

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