Cardinals need to fix running game.
tempe, ariz.» The Arizona Cardinals’ once robust running game has all but vanished in recent weeks. Now the team has to try to rediscover it while facing the punishing defense of the Carolina Panthers.
In Saturday’s 26-20 overtime victory over Green Bay, the Cardinals managed just 40 yards rushing in 19 attempts, an anemic average of 2.1 yards per carry.
David Johnson gained 35 yards in 15 tries, an average of 2.3 per attempt. Arizona’s longest running play of the game was 8 yards.
“I think they had a good scheme against us from the two weeks before that when we played them, they were ready for us,” Johnson said Tuesday after the Cardinals’ walk-through practice.
Arizona coach Bruce Arians placed the blame squarely on the offensive line and not on his rookie running back.
“Getting their (behind) kicked up front,” Arians said. “It’s not anything David is doing. There’s just not a lot of holes there and we have to do a better job. It’s a tough challenge this week.”
When the Cardinals face Carolina in the NFC championship game Sunday, they will go against a defense that ranked fourth against the run in the regular season, allowing 88.4 yards per game.
Defensive end Jared Allen is doubtful for the game because of a broken foot.
Most of the season, the Cardinals’ ground game had been humming along nicely, with Chris Johnson the featured back until he went down with a season-ending injury. David Johnson, a third-round draft pick out of Northern Iowa, knows the running game has been crucial to the success of the Cardinals, who had the No. 1-ranked offense in the NFL during the regular season.
“When we’re able to run the ball, it keeps our offense on the field and it just overall helps our whole team,” Johnson said.