Posted October 03, 2012 on
AP on Fox
Virginia Tech Hokies
The Arizona Cardinals are off to their best start in 38 years despite a ground game that isn't keeping pace.
Even though the Cardinals are one of three 4-0 teams in the NFL, their running game ranks 29th out of 32 teams at 68 yards per game. Only Dallas, Pittsburgh and Oakland are worse.
While the Cardinals say they're happy to be winning regardless of the statistics, quarterback Kevin Kolb and guard Daryn Colledge know that the running game needs to get going to give the team a more balanced attack as the season moves into November and December.
''It's a big point of emphasis for us,'' Kolb said after practice on Tuesday, ''and we know that we're going to have to have it, especially come later on in the season. That's a big part of the game as people start to get banged up and we get later on in the cold weather months.''
Arizona managed just 28 yards on the ground on 15 attempts in Sunday's 24-21 overtime victory over Miami, an average of 1.9 yards per carry.
For the season, the Cardinals are gaining 2.7 yards per attempt, second-worst (behind's Pittsburgh's 2.6) in the league.
''We've got to get better,'' coach Ken Whisenhunt said. ''We're trying to work on that. Hopefully, we'll show some improvement.''
The Cardinals entered the season expecting the running game to be a strength behind the 1-2 punch of Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams.
But Wells went down in the season's third game, a 27-6 victory over Philadelphia, with a severe turf toe injury that will keep him sidelined at least through Thanksgiving weekend.
That leaves the majority of the work to Williams, the shifty second-year pro who missed all of his rookie season with a torn patella tendon in his right knee.
Williams fumbled the ball away in the season-opening win over Seattle, and again in the final minutes at New England, allowing the Patriots to attempt, and miss, what would have been the game-winning field goal.
He came back with his best performance to date against Philadelphia. In the only one-sided triumph for the Cardinals thus far, he gained 83 yards on 13 carries, a good share of them in a late drive that set up Jay Feely's 27-yard field goal that sealed the victory.
Against the Dolphins, though, he managed only 26 yards on 13 attempts. For the season, the former Virginia Tech standout has 131 yards on 42 carries, an average of 3 yards per attempt.
With Wells out, the backup chores have gone to William Powell, who made the roster with his play in the preseason but never had appeared in a regular season game until he managed 2 yards on 2 carries against Miami.
The Cardinals re-signed Alfonso Smith, a member of the team a year ago, for depth at the position.
The offense was hurt against Miami by the absence of LaRod Stephens-Howling, the diminutive situational running back with a knack for making big plays. He sat out the game with a hip flexor and his participation at St. Louis on Thursday night is expected to be a game-time decision.
The offense has had to operate behind a makeshift line after left tackle Levi Brown went down with a torn triceps in the preseason. D'Anthony Batiste moved from right tackle to left tackle, with rookie Bobby Massie starting at right tackle.
Massie was beaten repeatedly by Cameron Wake - who had 4 1/2 of Miami's eight sacks - on Sunday. But at least Kolb was able to get some time when he needed it most, notably on his final pass of regulation, a fourth-down 15-yard dart to Andre Roberts for a touchdown with 22 seconds remaining to force overtime.
Colledge said run blocking requires teamwork up front meshed with the decisions of the person carrying the ball.
''The running game is one of those things where you've got to have everybody on the same page every single time,'' he said, ''because if one guy is out of position, one defensive guy can change the game. We've got new guys, we've got transition, we've got new running backs, so it's one of those things that will hopefully come along soon.
''We know it's a big part of what we do and a big part of our future. Hopefully it will be this week.''
Opponents at least are respecting the runs because Arizona has been successful on play-action passes. Kolb was 5 for 5 on them against the Dolphins.
The Cardinals no doubt would like to have even a sliver of the kind of success they had on the ground at St. Louis last season. In that 23-20 victory, Wells rushed for a franchise-record 228 yards, almost a quarter of his total for the season.
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
ST. LOUIS Kevin Kolb trudged toward the locker room, his gray hat flipped backward and his lips pursed, his once-unbeaten Arizona Cardinals unhinged and his offense a mangled wreck. The roar at the Edward Jones Dome was muffled behind him as he mumbled words to wide receiver Andre Roberts in a dimmed corridor. The siege that scrambled the harried quarterback was over, the results...
Cards Visit Rams for NFC West Bout
When the NFL schedule came out over the summer Thursday night's scheduled bout between the Arizona Cardinals and St. Louis Rams at the Jones Dome (8:20 pm ET, NFL Network) didn't garner much attention. But suddenly this is a rather attractive matchup, pitting one of the last undefeated teams in the league against another...
Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb was sacked nine times by the Rams on Thursday night. He finished 28-of-50 for 289 yards as the Cardinals dropped to 4-1 with a 17-3 loss.Fantasy Spin:Kolb has been put on the turf 17 times in the last two games. The good news for fantasy owners is that he didn't melt down Thursday despite having a reputation of being skittish in the pocket. He...
I’m responding to an email inquiry, in advance of the Thursday game again this week. With bye weeks starting this week (yes, we had a ‘mini bye’ last week) owners are faced with some difficult add/drop decisions for the first time this season. In an attempt to solve some of the problems, we’ll take a [...]
The 4-0 Arizona Cardinals will look to remain undefeated as they head to St. Louis to take on the 2-2 Rams Thursday night.The Cardinals are coming off a thrilling 24-21 OT win at home against the Dolphins, and are one of only three remaining unbeaten teams.Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb threw for 324 yards and three touchdowns, and will look to continue that success versus a St...
Any hope the Arizona Cardinals had at another close-call victory ended with Kevin Kolb on his back - again and again.
Sam Bradford threw a touchdown pass on St. Louis' first possession Thursday night, then pretty much turned things over to a defense that harassed Kolb for nine sacks in a 17-3 win over the previously unbeaten Cardinals, who got stopped twice inside the St. Louis...
The fantasy football week kicks off with the undefeated Cardinals traveling back to St. Louis to meet the Rams in the Thursday night NFL contest. With the fantasy football season almost one-third over now (wow, that was fast), let's take a look at some Arizona Cardinals players that can help fantasy owners secure a win this week: Start 'em Larry Fitzgerald (WR): No shock...
As the second quarter of the NFL season begins, we have a huge swing game in the suddenly resurgent and physical NFC West. And here’s the kicker: The game doesnt involve the San Fransisco 49ers. Instead it’s the unbeaten and Kevin Kolb-led Arizona Cardinals taking to the road, trying to stay perfect, against the 2-2 Rams. This was supposed to be a 49er runaway in this division...
Entering Week 4 of the 2012 NFL season, the NFC was 8-4 in games against the AFC. This comes as a surprise because in previous seasons (Super Bowl aside), the AFC reigned supreme over the NFC in regular season match-ups. With two cross-conference games scheduled today, the lead will grow or narrow.After the San Francisco 49ers pummeled the New York Jets 34-0, the remaining AFC...
Tonight, the St. Louis Rams face the biggest game on their schedule in the first half. This game, more than any other, has the potential to set a tone of this season. If the Rams win at home against the hated Arizona Cardinals, look out for the next home game; the Edward Jones dome will be crazy. I am still holding out hope that the Ed will be rocking tonight. Looking at...
As I sat here, it was rather embarrassing that the Arizona Cardinals were even undefeated to this point. They have to horrible quarterbacks, no running game and the offensive line is just horrendous. All of this was exposed tonight in St. Louis as the Rams put a 17-3 beat down on the Arizona Cardinals. The score might not show it, but this game was one-sided from the beginning...
Arizona Cardinals 3, St. Louis Rams 17Except for a few big plays, Sam Bradford (141 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) had a fairly dreadful day passing, completing just 7 of 21 passes. But those few big plays were exactly what the Rams needed, along with a suffocating defense, to topple the Cardinals and send them to their first loss of the year. Even though Bradford only completed a paltry...
The Arizona Cardinals - check that, THE FOUR-AND-OH ARIZONA CARDINALS - have been the biggest surprise in the NFL season so far, and a major factor that sees the NFC West leading the league in wins at the quarter pole. But now they prepare to take on an improved Rams team that is undefeated in their home stadium so far.
If respectability starts at home - and the four...
After years as a laughingstock, the NFC West is considered by some to be the best in football so far this year. Leading the way is the Buzzsaw, a team that most thought would do no better than a game above or below the .500 mark. For all the cruel jokes we lose about ignoring them, it’s good to have not every team located west of the Mississippi to be boring and mediocre. It makes...