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Cardinals' Rushing Attack Is Elite, But Less Balanced In 2020

Numbers of note following the Week 9 loss to the Dolphins

QB Kyler Murray runs a zone read against the Dolphins.
QB Kyler Murray runs a zone read against the Dolphins.

The Cardinals are on pace to set a franchise-record in yards per carry for the second consecutive season with a current mark of 5.2, but they've gotten there differently in 2020.

The rushing attack has been boosted by the elite exploits of quarterback Kyler Murray, who leads the NFL in yards per carry at 7.1. That figure is a full yard better than second-place Miles Sanders of the Eagles, and much higher than his rookie year, when Murray averaged a great-but-not-mind-boggling 5.8 yards per carry.

On the flip-side, the performance from the team's running backs has not been as good.

Last year, Kenyan Drake and Chase Edmonds combined to average 5.17 yards per carry, rushing the ball 183 times for 946 yards. In 2020, Drake and Edmonds have combined to carry the ball 173 times for 758 yards, a 4.38 yards-per-carry average.

There was a stark difference on Sunday, as Murray averaged 9.6 yards per carry on 11 attempts while Edmonds averaged 2.8 on 25.

Overall, the Cardinals' offense is better than last year because of its improved passing attack, but there may still be room to grow on the ground if the running back attempts become more efficient.

Other numbers of note following the Week 9 loss to the Dolphins:

  • Justin Murray earned a fourth consecutive above average pass-blocking grade from Pro Football Focus on Sunday. He has done a great job filling in for J.R. Sweezy at right guard, allowing one pressure and no sacks on 139 pass-blocking snaps.
  • Murray added 15.3 expected points to the Cardinals by himself on Sunday, according to ESPN. That was the best single-game performance of any quarterback this season, and tied a 2017 Eli Manning showing against the 49ers in 2015 for the highest single-game EPA since ESPN started tracking the data in 2006.