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The Arizona Cardinals started the season with a 2-3 record and it looked as if the season was lost. They were tied in last place with the St. Louis Rams and were trailing the 49ers and the Seahawks by multiple games. Their defense was just recovering from injury and the offense was sputtering. Then came explosive players Andre Ellington and Michael Floyd into the offense and the Cardinals have been excellent on offense. They are now 6-4 and have a good shot at making the playoffs.
Andre Ellington was drafted in the sixth round by the Cardinals in April’s draft. He came out of Clemson after two full seasons of carrying the whole load on offense for the Tigers. He took 223 and 212 carries respectively in the last two seasons. He used full burst and good vision to score 9 touchdowns last year. After watching him tear up the ACC over the last two seasons, I have discovered that he is capable of being a lead back in the NFL.
Bruce Arians, however, sees Ellington as a Darren Sproles type back. He has great hands and speed, however he is only 5’9″. He also is pretty light weighing in at 199 pounds. He was brought into the offense early in the season as a pass catcher and third down back and succeeded in this role because of his hands. Carson Palmer loves to look for Ellington out of the backfield, but he sees Ellington as more than a Sproles-like player.
The player above Ellington is Rashard Mendenhall. Mendenahall had a great start to his career as a touchdown machine for the Steelers, but has battle injury for many of the past few seasons. He has been pretty bad this season only averaging 2.9 YPC. His most recent performance was the epitome of his season as he racked up 14 yards on 13 carries and scored a goal line touchdow. Bruce Arians must be blind if he can’t see that Mendenhall has been terrible.
Ellington has done excellent in his role of third down specialist as he has averaged 6.2 YPC. He has proven that he can run through the tackles and has not been injured in quite a long time. His only major injury that he suffered was a minor concussion in training camp. He has clearly shaken it off. He runs well when he goes between the tackles and pushes it to the outside. He does that in this 80 yard touchdown run that he ripped off in week 9.
Arians has to realize by now that in order to push for the playoffs, they are going to need to ride Ellington to get to the playoffs.