Cardinals make run, at least 10 yards at a time

Posted by Darren Urban on September 24, 2015 – 11:46 am

Last season, there was no explosion to the Cardinals’ running game. Andre Ellington was hobbling before the regular season even began, and there was really no one else on the roster to break one loose consistently. That showed by the end of the season, when the Cardinals had only 32 total runs of 10 yards or more.

This season, the Cardinals already have nine such runs in just two games.

It helps that Ellington was healthy to start the season — he had four runs of at least 10 yards all by himself in the opener, and he didn’t even play all of it before hurting his knee. You’d like to think that Ellington can take his time returning, making sure that explosion is there. Last year, the Cardinals had to have him. This year, they have Chris Johnson — whose entire career has been built on explosive runs — and rookie David Johnson, who in a very small sample size is beginning to look like explosive runs is what he is all about.

The breakdown of the 10-yard-plus runs thus far:

Andre Ellington 18, 16, 14, 10
Chris Johnson 12
Carson Palmer 12

David Johnson 13T, 14, 13

It’s questionable Ellington can return this week against the 49ers . (Arians made it sound like he’d miss at least one more game.) The Niners also have a better run defense than what the Cardinals have seen. But when the Cards can take a seam and make it worth something, it’s a big reason why the offense is clicking and why Palmer has some room to operate throwing the ball.



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27 Responses to “Cardinals make run, at least 10 yards at a time”

  1. By John The Draft Guy on Sep 24, 2015 | Reply

    A big part of the explosion runs and Palmer’s unbelievable passing is this offensive line.

    When breaking down the line play last year, it seemed each lineman would take their turn to miss a block. If it wasn’t the 5 lineman, it was a back or TE missing.

    This year, you are seeing much more of a unit playing together. Sure, Cooper had a subpar game vs NO. I thought he rebounded against the Bears , where I only saw two negative plays by him in the first half vs the 7 in game one. Sendlein struggled on at least 3 plays in the first half and Watford had some issues on a couple of plays. Larsen, who I thought did a great job against NO, struggled a couple times this game. I think Veldheer is playing at an All Pro level.

    But more often than not, they all did their job and clicked together. This lead to big passes and some nice running lanes.

    I thought the play early in the first half, on a third down, where they handed the ball off to Kerwynn Williams was blocked perfectly and Williams was slow to the hole allowing the guy Larry was blocking to shed and make the tackle. It was set up for a big gainer if that was Ellington or CJ.

    I can only imagine how much better this line will get with Iupati. The question is, who is the best 5 lineman? Has Watford, as Keim has put it, earned his way on the field or has Massie played well enough to take back the spot? Maybe Watford moves inside? Larsen has played better this year, does he go to the bench or does he have shot at the other guard spot? Or, after improvement from week one to week two cement Cooper’s spot?

    One thing for sure, having 7 offensive lineman who can start has never been an issue the Arizona Cardinals have ever had to deal with.

  2. By Joe C. on Sep 24, 2015 | Reply

    Assuming Iupati and Massie start, having Wartford, Larsen, and DJ seems like enough depth. Sowell and Shipley would be ripe candidates for a roster spot if needed. I’m not sure what position other than CB is underrepresented on the roster, and even there if you swing Mathieu to slot we have enough of the right mix of DB’s. Darren, do you see a need anywhere that would push a roster move due to excess OL bodies?

  3. By Darren Urban on Sep 24, 2015 | Reply

    Joe C. —

    RE: Roster

    There’s no reason to cut someone until you have someone you want to add. I could see, for instance, wanting another cornerback, but if there isn’t one out there they want, what’s the point to do it just to do it?

  4. By Dynosoar on Sep 24, 2015 | Reply

    This image of 5 Bears and a David Johnson is now my desktop wallpaper.

    That photo is freakin awesome!

    I’m lovin the article and how well we are running AND throwing the ball. 100% efficiency in the Red Zone. How often does that happen?

    If anyone has missed it, the Darren Fells interview by Kyle is a good one as well.

  5. By Patrick Hoog aka Don't Take Losses on Sep 24, 2015 | Reply

    Urb, JTDG, et al:

    OL, lol, so deep. Keim got it done. Praying Iupati’s knee is a go and he can explode. Would love to run it down 9ers throats, a la what Redskins did to Rams.

    OL 7 deep with solid starters, some with Pro Bowl potential, and DJ in the hole, trying to climb out. Unreal.So, what do they do with Sowell and AQ? They both got to be on the bubble as season unfolds.

    The quality, depth of this squad is simply unprecedented in my 28 years as a Cards fan. This is one of those seasons that we just sit back and let it unfold.

    PS: I love the makeup of practice squad, Steen got cut, guess they wanted look at that new RB? I even like the quality of players on our Injured list.

  6. By Dr. G. on Sep 24, 2015 | Reply

    Lovin’ how our TEAM looks this year…!

    Seems a bit innocuous at this point to see that the 9ers are ranked much higher on paper after 2 games, especially Offense and Defense. So I know Arians has informed his guys that this is no gimme…he must get his ship together…

    Who knows if Kapernick is better after Warner’s input…gotta spy this guy so he doesn’t get loose…

    Even so…I am confident the 9ers are in for a butt kickin’…no surprises in OUR CRIB… Goooooo Cards…!!! 3 & 0….

  7. By Dynosoar on Sep 24, 2015 | Reply

    PH aka DTL,

    I’m with you all the way. All my years as a Cardinals fan I’ve told all my friends, “if we just had an O-Line to protect the QB we’d have a top notch team.”

    We finally have that O-Line.

    Another complaint that we’ve all had year in and year out is how we win games, but since we play to the level of our opponents we lose many of the games we Should win.

    These last two games were games we should’ve won And We Did. That’s cool.

    This is the team I’ve rooted for since I was a kid back in ’77. It was worth the wait.

    Go Cardinals, one day and one play at a time and win that ring.

  8. By Scott H on Sep 24, 2015 | Reply

    Love hearing that Iupati is on track to return this week. But I love even more that the line has played well in his absence. Shoot, looking at Seattle’s defense so far, it seems like they are a shadow of themselves with a key player missing. Looking at how our O-line played against the Raiders, it was looking like we might suffer the same fate with Iupati out / Massie suspended / Sowell looking horrible / our first round pick nowhere near ready to play….you get the idea.

    But then a funny thing happened – the season started and these guys dug in and PLAYED, man. Protecting the QB, paving the way for the run game…the basics that are anything but basic! And now we get a stud like Iupati back on the field. Nice.

    Love the depth we have up front. Our coaching is really doing the job.

    Since there is little to be un-happy about, let me throw this out there – is anyone else concerned at all by the way that Michael Floyd appears to have flat-lined at this point???? What the hell happened to this guy??

  9. By Scott H on Sep 24, 2015 | Reply

    There is no need to “rush” Ellington back this week if he’s not really where he needs to be. With the balance we have on offense right now, it’s not like we NEED Ellington back for the 49ers. The game is certainly not a “gimme” by any means, but….with the way this offense has been rolling, Ellington’s absence should NOT be the difference in the outcome. Teams have run very effectively against the Niners so far. With Palmer dealing the cards ( HA! No pun intended! ) the way he has been, we have to much for them to stop.

    Would love to see Fitz have another 100 yard game ( he doesn’t even have to catch 3 TD’s to make me happy 🙂 ) and see another solid game for Fells.

    Also on the wish list for this week – another score from either the ST or the defense that helps put this one away.

  10. By robert on Sep 24, 2015 | Reply

    no way wattford sits especially against 49ers..we want to run the ball and keep Kap off the field

  11. By clssylssy on Sep 24, 2015 | Reply

    Not too terribly concerned about Michael Floyd as he is just coming off a nasty hand injury and has only played one game, missed a lot of practice and valuable time since his injury…same concerns could be held about Greshem and others who’ve really not shown us anything much either. At least Floyd is a big bodied blocker to help open up holes & protect Palmer and Greshem was in there getting his feet wet in Chicago. I have a feeling this week we will need to do a whole lot better than last week as the 9ers have made no secret that they have a bullseye on our QB, and while we can boast that he’s not been sacked yet, that is going to be a prize set out for the taking. The 9ers love “1sts” especially when it comes to the Cards and knocking us off at home would put them ahead of the Hawks and bring them up even with the other teams in the division overall. A win against the Cards would put them even with the Rams within the division.
    Apparently our fans don’t watch the 9ers, who were pretty impressive in their season opener and have a boatload of talent including an extremely mobile QB in Kaepernick (who also has an arm)Carlos Hyde, Torrey Smith, Anquan Boldin, Novarro Bowman, Reggie Bush to name a few, and despite the rankings, they know how we play and are familiar with playing at UofP Stadium and all the crowd noise. Our defense is going to have to be a lot sharper this week and if we give Kaepernick all the time in the world we gave Cutler, it’s going to be a very long day!
    We’ve got the talent and the depth and if we come out explosively, play smart avoiding the blown coverages and miscommunications we should be able to finish strong. It may not be a cake walk, but, we can do this! GOTTA PROTECT THE NEST AND PREVAIL!

  12. By Credit Card on Sep 24, 2015 | Reply

    I’m being very serious — with the leg turn over rate, agility, and quickness of Earl Watford, I would give him a shot a fullback. He obviously has the ability to block in the back field, and make a chip block.

    He has enough raw physical talent to catch a short dump off pass and run 5-10-yards. Most importantly, he has the physical strength to be a lead blocker up the middle, and has the speed to be a lead blocker around the edge.

    Depth at OL is a good problem to have.

  13. By Richard L on Sep 24, 2015 | Reply

    David Johnson has 3 touchdowns in hist first three touches. Why is BA bringing him along slowly? Doesn’t make sense to me. Get him the ball!

  14. By TucsonTim on Sep 24, 2015 | Reply

    Adding the best run blocking guard in the NFL playing against his old team and what do you get….RECORDS!

  15. By Don on Sep 24, 2015 | Reply

    I really hate to be negative because I too believe this is the year the Cards go all the way but all this talk about our o-line being so good is fantasy. It isn’t. Sure no sacks to Palmer but that is against 2 really bad teams. Palmer will get sacked this Sunday, hopefully no more than twice. He will get hit and pressured. Even Lupati is weak on pass protection though I think his scores will improve with Palmer vs Kapernick. Still, if we don’t protect Palmer it’s over.

  16. By Steve on Sep 24, 2015 | Reply

    Darren, I think despite Watford holding down the fort Massie needs to remain the starter because as Arians said, he is the better pass protector and it’s all about keeping Palmer clean and upright, don’t you agree?

  17. By Darren Urban on Sep 25, 2015 | Reply

    Steve —

    RE: Massie

    Seems to be trending that way.

  18. By jaime on Sep 25, 2015 | Reply

    please Mike and Earl protect Palmer!!! Lets go Big Red!!!

  19. By Rugbymuffin on Sep 25, 2015 | Reply


    Please, please, please,pretty please, a 1000x please.

    Can we get Adrian Wilson’s FULL Ring of Honor Ceremony on the website after the game ?

    They will never show it on TV, and I know I am not the only person would is a huge A-DUB fan, and would really appreciate the chance to see and hear it.

  20. By Patrick Hoog aka Don't Take Losses on Sep 25, 2015 | Reply


    Agree, if he doesn’t start RT. He is the anti AQ, in shape, powerful, athletic.

  21. By TheXgasm on Sep 25, 2015 | Reply

    Credit Card –

    It sounds kinda ridiculous, but then I remembered that Arians put A.Q. Shipley in at fullback for a goal line play that worked, so maybe he’s not 100% against doing something similar with Watford in extremely short yardage situations.

    Like you said, he’s clearly a great run blocker and a lot more athletic than I think any of us realized.

  22. By Joe C. on Sep 25, 2015 | Reply

    Roster churn? I wouldn’t dump someone just to dump someone, but if there was a player who had potential we cut as a numbers game due to Iupati’s injury and Massie’s suspension I thought now that those are about over there might be someone on the PS they might like to have on the roster. But the roster looks pretty balance and OL may be the place to have extra bodies this year!

  23. By Scott H on Sep 25, 2015 | Reply

    Don –

    Dude….if the Cardinals win the Super Bowl by 10 points, will you be complaining the next day because they didn’t win it by 20?

    Wow, man….are you enjoying the 2-0 start at all?

  24. By faster on Sep 25, 2015 | Reply

    Carson Palmer 12?
    why do i not like this (silent praying)?

    and for the oline, is arians (and keim) slowly building a “zweihaender”? a oline centered by veldheer, and then there are players blocking for the run, and players who are better at pass protection?

    nevertheless, this depth at the oline makes me very happy, and i wouldn`t release anyone.

  25. By Don on Sep 25, 2015 | Reply

    Scott H

    If the cards win the SB by 1 point I’m going to be screaming and laughing about how good they are. The difference is their winning would be a fact, trying to say our o-line is great is not a fact. You can’t fix something if you refuse to admit it needs fixing and as a fan you are setting yourself up for disappointment if you lie to yourself about our weaknesses.
    I’m excited about our 2-0 start for 2 reasons, 1st is that we are ahead of course but 2nd, what I see as more significant is the fact that last years Cards would have beat these 2 teams by 7 points or less. Last years Cards never beat the snot out of any team, good or bad.

  26. By Scott H on Sep 26, 2015 | Reply

    Don –

    I don’t really hear people saying our O-line is great, so…not sure what you are so up in arms about. The O-line has played well. And they have played well without Iupati,OR Massie, who will undoubtedly make them better when they are in there. The run game has been effective in keeping the offense balanced and effective. Pass protection has obviously been good enough to allow Carson Palmer to be tied for the league lead in TD passes and the 2nd highest QB rating after two weeks. The O-line has played well.

    But according to you, we are all sailing on the Titanic and we’re thrilled to death about it. Sorry, I’m just not hearing what you are reacting to. I don’t hear people lying to themselves, as you say they are.

    You say Palmer will be sacked on Sunday, that he will get hit and pressured. OK. And? Probably, so will Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers at some point during their games on Sunday. So will Ben Rothelisberger and Russell Wilson. That is part of playing the QB position in the NFL. That doesn’t mean they will not be effective. That is what great QB’s do – they find a way to make plays even when the circumstances around them are not peachy perfect.

    By the way, there are also 11 guys on defense on every play who get paid to make life difficult for opposing QB’s. And some of those guys are pretty good at what they do, too

    An offensive line does not have to allow ZERO sacks, ZERO pressure, or ZERO QB hits to be great. An offensive line has to provide solid protection over the course of a game to allow the offense to execute its game-plan. So far? Our O-line has done that. People are just encouraged by the job they have done so far without Iupati or Massie in the line-up. Why do you have such a problem with that???

  27. By Don on Sep 27, 2015 | Reply


    I’m not up in arms about anything, that appears to be you. I’m not sure why my original post seems to have upset you so. You haven’t seen anyone talk about how great our o-line is, ok, good for you, I have, end of story.
    I suspect I’m not the first person to comment on your habit of putting words in peoples mouths. The majority of your last post is full of things you have made up in response to things I never said. The titanic? 0 sacks, 0 hits, 0 pressures? Where are you making this stuff up from? certainly nothing I said.
    Let me try to simplify.
    To those people who have posted comments here and on other blogs about how good our o-line is it’s my opinion that they aren’t as good as you think’
    To those who haven’t made posts like that and haven’t read any like that please feel free to not get bent out of shape about my opinion and posts to those other people.

    Were this last year and I posted that our run game wasn’t very good would it have bothered you as much as my comment on our 0-line has?
    We are both Cardinals fans and we both know that this years Cards are even better than last years which was very darn good…GO CARDINALS.

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