The Arizona Cardinals face off against the Seattle Seahawks this Sunday as they've done twice a year since 2002 when the divisions were realigned. The Hawks have consistently pounded the Cardinals since then, with the Cardinals going just 4-8 over those six years. One thing that the Seahawks have always been able to do is run the ball against the Cardinals, averaging 131 yards per game. The Cardinals won't see the same face in the backfield this time around though, in fact it'll be the first time since September of 2003, that Shaun Alexander won't be the leading rusher against the Cardinals. Alexander is gone and taking his place is a 27 year old back who was cast-off by his former team.
|2008 - Julius Jones||8||113||509||63.6||4.5||32||2||11||69||8.6||6.3||17||0|
Julius Jones was signed to replace Alexander after spending the first four years of his career with the Cowboys. He was a second round pick but never really became the back that the Boys were hoping for and by last season he was just keeping the seat warm for Marion Barber III. Jones has had a good first half of the season though, especially considering the complete lack of a passing game. He's averaging just over 66 yards per game but before Hasselbeck went down he was averaging 93 yards per game and 4.8 yards per carry. Interestingly enough, Jones' efficiency hasn't dropped that much in the past five games but his numbers have significantly dropped off due to a lack of carries.
|Games||Carries per Game||Yards per Game||Yards per Carry|
Obviously there's a drop off in overall production, as you'd expect, but it looks like he might just have had fewer opportunities as teams focused more on the Hawks running game and the offense not being able to play from behind. With Hasselbeck returning to the lineup, Jones should be able to flourish again since defenses can't focus on him. Jones is unique back in that he isn't particularly great in any one area but he does several things well. He doesn't really have top end speed and he isn't much of a power back but he does have the abilities to do a little bit of both. He's also a reliable option out of the backfield but his biggest strength, which somewhat negates his pass catching prowess, is blocking. He drew some rave reviews early in the season for his ability to protect Hasselbeck and considering the Cardinals ability to rush the passer, he should play a big role in determining whether or not his QB has time to get rid of the ball.
It'll be interesting how Clancy Pendergast decides to attack this Seahawks' offense, but whatever game plan they roll out, I'd imagine that Julius Jones will be a guy that they try and shut down. A solid running game would take pressure off of Hasselbeck and the passing game which certainly not something that would be in the Cardinals' best interests. Agree/Disagree? Which is the bigger threat, the Seahawks ground game or their passing game?
On a party unrelated note: Julius Jones is the younger brother of former Arizona Cardinals running back Thomas Jones.