Ellington may be boost Cards’ offense needs
Oct 14, 2013, 10:16 PM | Updated: Oct 15, 2013, 4:12 pm
It’s not always greedy to ask for more. Sometimes it’s simply the right thing to do.
Oliver Twist asked for more gruel and touched off a meaningful rebellion.
Bruce Dickinson asked for more cowbell and the Blue Oyster Cult soared into stardom.
So, don’t be ashamed, Cardinals fans, to ask for more Andre Ellington. It might just be the kick in the pants the offense needs.
The sixth-round pick out of Clemson impressed the coaching staff during training camp, enough that he earned a roster spot — just not much playing time. Ellington had one touch in the season opener, but his role in the offense has expanded each week, climbing from six touches in week two to 12 in Sunday’s loss to San Francisco.
Following Ellington’s best statistical game of the season — 92 total yards and a touchdown against the 49ers — the climb isn’t likely to end. At least it shouldn’t.
Good things happen when Ellington gets the ball. His 7.0 yards per carry is more than twice the average of starting running back Rashard Mendenhall. Ellington’s 8.3 yards per touch creates an even bigger gap between he and Mendenhall, who averages 3.7 yards each time he touches the ball.
In addition, Ellington has more catches (18) for more yards (180) than No. 3 receiver Andre Roberts (15, 150), despite having been the target of fewer passes. The rookie has also scored twice (once more than Michael Floyd) and hasn’t fumbled (Larry Fitzgerald has).
And I’ve saved the rookie’s most impressive stat for last: Ellington moves the chains.
He’s picked up a first down a remarkable 19 times on just 43 chances. That’s a 44 percent conversion rate. Mendenhall is earning a first down 20 percent of the time.
Heck, Adrian Peterson only moves the chains 24 percent of the time, and NFL yardage leader LaSean McCoy converts 29 percent of the time.
Granted, Ellington plays mostly on third down, but when the cat is making the entire chain gang move nearly every other time he’s touching the ball, one has to wonder if it’s time to expand his role.
Andre Ellington has been the most pleasant surprise of the Cardinals’ season thus far. And with a crucial game looming Thursday against Seattle, a storyline to monitor is whether Bruce Arians will continue to use No. 38 in a role that seems to suit him, or rather develop a fever where the only prescription is more Ellington.