We all saw the Arizona Cardinals transition finally into a “serious” NFC contender in 2013 at a respectable 10-6. Yet there were still issues... actually an issue Cardinals Rushing. The entire league knew the 2013 Cardinals were little more than a thinly veiled core of receivers. No one really took the Cardinals rushing seriously. Why should they? After all, they failed to produce a single 1,000 yard rusher in 2013, so no one really took the backfield seriously. Even worse, between the 6 Backs they had on the roster in 2013, they only mustered a total of 1,540 rushing together!
Defensive Coordinators all over the league knew full well all you had to was man-handle the Cardinal receivers and you pretty much had the entire offense in check. Apparently the Cardinals didn't like being that predictable or one-dimensional. So they went out for 2014 and did something about it. So now the real question is...since we all know in order to win in the NFL you have to be able to run...the question is can the 2014 Arizona Cardinals average 200 yards a game rushing? Let's take a look and see!
Offensively speaking, Cardinals Management went out and made what many experts considered “the right moves” on the offensive side of the ball. Of the 50 plus players that make the Cardinals 2014 roster, 7 are Running Backs. Of those 2 are “bonafide” rookies! Fresh legs coming out of the back field, perfect for the intended 2-Back Set planned for the Cardinals' 2014 rushing Season. It will be interesting to see just how Coach Arians uses them all...if he does. Many think we'll simply see “Running Back by committee” while other believe this is the perfect stage for a true “Break-Out Back” to emerge and become a Cardinals star.
What will make the difference this season in Cardinals rushing as opposed to last year? Good question as the Cards' backfield will be the difference in 2014 in them finally being classified, established and most important respected as an ”elite” NFL team. Will 2014 finally be the year the Card's finally get past their division rivals 49ers & Seahawks?
Even though what the Cards did in the draft was short of incredible considering what they had to work with. The most important move they made by far was the signing of Ex-Raiders Offensive Lineman Jared Veldheer. Why the Raiders ever let him go was the league-leading question this off-season. Fortunately the Cardinals didn't wait around for an answer. On March 11th of 2014 they signed him to a 5-Year $35 Million deal. This signing instantly made the Cardinals' O-Line one of the best in the NFC. Possibly the NFL. More importantly it will also be a Cardinals O-Line that will successfully in combination with “ROOKIE” Running Back legs manage to hide Carson Palmer's age another year. Many believe the Cardinals backfield will the difference in just how far they go next season. Could we be looking at two 1,000 yard rushers in Cardinals uniforms! Could the Arizona Cardinals finally have the proper pieces needed to turn out not one but two 1,000 yard Rushers?
So let's look at Cardinals Rushing. With the new and improved Offensive line, Andre Ellington will rip off 1,000 yards next season as a Sophomore... the only question is who the other 1,000 rusher will be coming out of the Cardinals backfield. Yes I said it! There will be 2 1,000-yard rushers coming out of Phoenix next season! Actually I see quite a few Cards going to the All-Star game in 2014. Don't forget about that superb core of Cardinals receivers that added Ted Ginn which provides that outside speed the Cards have been lacking. With receivers like Larry Fitzgerald running around, backs will have a lot more freedom in Phoenix. Especially running that 2-Back set that should allow backs the freedom needed to slip out of the back field every so often and catch a pass or two. Season tickets are in order as 2014 will be an excellent season for Cards fans as they get to see it all work together!
For 2014 Head coach Bruce Arians has a really nice mixture of both experience and talent in Cardinals uniforms. The only question is how will he manage it. More importantly, can Carson Palmer hold it all together while grooming rookie sensation Logan Thomas? Only time and a few fast linebackers will tell. One things for sure, with the moves management made in the off-season, the Cardinals offense will put a lot more than 5,542 yards next season. For one of the 1st times ever, the Cardinals will be able to get into the end-zone either way...through the air or on the ground. Maybe A much more balanced attack will yield much better results. A 12-4 record in the 2014 NFC Championship game perhaps?
Can the Cardinals average 200-uards per game in 2014? Ellington, with the addition of Veldheer, will have a 1,000 season and probably go the Pro-Bowl. And whatever else happens, Stephen Taylor and Johnathan Dwyer will balance out the Cardinals backfield nicely. Considering they are situated in a relatively tough division, the Cards' fought for and gained the much sought after respect experienced by the more elite teams in the league. Will the 2014 season see the Cardinals atop the NFC West at 12-4?
Can the 2014 Arizona Cardinals average a league-best 200 a game rushing in 2014? I believe so...it seems they finally have the right pieces in the right places do so. All I can be is wrong!