The Arizona Cardinals ran the ball just three times for six yards in the first half of Sunday's NFL Week 2 loss to the Washington Redskins. While they did get the ground game going in the second half, quarterback Kevin Kolb agrees that important to get running back Beanie Wells going earlier in the game.
"(Wells) is obviously a huge part of our offense. It helps me out and it helps the offensive line out. We have to make sure we do that early on and impose our will," Kolb said.
Kolb said that they got a little greedy early "myself included" thinking they could get what they wanted in the passing game on the outside, but, he added, "Everybody understands you have to have a run game, it slows everybody down, they don't pin their ears back like they were."
The Cardinals QB said they made the adjustment in the second half to run more. "That's when we finally found a groove so we have to do that earlier."
For his part, Beanie didn't complain about how he was used. Asked about only getting a few touches in the first half he said, "It just worked out that way."
In the second half, Wells carried the ball 11 times for 87 yards and a touchdown.
He was an effective part of the team's longest drives of the game which came at the beginning of the third quarter. Arizona used 19 plays in two drives that went for a combined 126 yards and used ten minutes of clock. Wells rushed eight times during those two extended possessions and only twice more for the rest of the game.
The Cardinals were without LaRod Stephens-Howling (hand injury) who carried the ball three times for ten yards in Week 1 and averaged 4.9 yards per attempt on 23 rushes last season. With rookie running back Ryan Williams down for the season, it was expected that LaRod would see the ball more this year to spell Wells and provide a different look with his smaller, quicker style of running.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt, however, said not having Stephens-Howling available in Week 2 didn't change his game plan. He expressed confidence in his other running backs even though they only combined for one carry on the day.
"I have a lot of confidence in Chester (Taylor) and Alfonso (Smith) as well being able to run the scheme we had in," Whisenhunt said. "We didn't have a tremendous amount of attempts so it's hard to think you're going to use the other guys when Beanie is going to get the bulk of them when you only have 16 or 17 carries or whatever it was." (It was 15.)
It seems that everyone is in agreement that the Cardinal need to run the ball more.