NFL

Arizona Cardinals Run Game Sputters Going Into NFC Championship Game

Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson (31) fights for a first down as Green Bay Packers linebacker Joe Thomas (48) defends during the second half of an NFL divisional playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

The Arizona Cardinals’ run attack has been anemic recently.

In last Saturday night’s overtime victory over the Green Bay Packers, Cardinals’ rushers gained 40 yards on 19 attempts, an abysmal 2.1 yards per carry. David Johnson, their starting running back, gained 35 yards in 15 tries, an embarrassing average of 2.3 yards per attempt. The Cardinals’ longest run was 8 yards.

It will be tough to improve a run game in a mere week, let alone against a defense like the Carolina Panthers, the Cardinals’ NFC Championship matchup.

The Panthers were the fourth ranked run defense in the regular season this season, allowing only 88.4 yards per game.

Bruce Arians, the Cardinals’ head coach doesn’t blame the running backs though. He blames the offensive linemen.

”Getting their (behind) kicked up front,” said Arians. ”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.”

Another thing to consider is pro bowl linebacker Luke Kuechly, who will be lining up opposite David Johnson and the rest of the Cardinals backfield this Sunday. He is an absolute monster, who along with Thomas Davis, spearhead one of the most fearsome linebacking corps in all of football.

”The linebackers are great,” Arians said, ”but they (the tackles) help make them great.”

Arians is talking about Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short, the Panther’s starting tackles. Lotulelei and Short are great players, Cardinals left guard Mike Iupati said, ”They’re big, fast, strong.”

As Arians says, they help make the linebackers the sort of players they are.

The Cardinals have their work cut out for them this Sunday, in more ways than one, but do you think they will win? Or will the Panthers continue on a near-perfect season to clash with either the Patriots or Broncos in Super Bowl 50? Tweet @I_AM_aMANn to keep the conversation going.

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