Kevin C. Cox
Stephens-Howling's 22 carries for 127 yards may be a bit deceiving.
One of the bright spots from Sunday's loss to the Atlanta Falcons was the play of Cardinals running back, LaRod Stephens-Howling. LSH made the game closer than it should have been and was one of the sole productive players on the offensive side of the ball. On the day, he carried the rock 22 times for a total of 127 yards and a touchdown score in the first quarter.
But those stats may be a little bit deceiving when looked at under a microscope. That is exactly what Rotoworld writer Evan Silva did:
LaRod Stephens-Howling gained 69.2% of his Week 11 yardage on 2 carries. Avged 1.86 yards on his other 22 touches: rotoworld.com/player/nfl/516…— Evan Silva (@evansilva) November 19, 2012
As Silva notes, Stephens-Howling only managed to gain 1.86 yards per carry outside of his two long runs. One was for 52 yards (his career long, surprisingly) and the other was a 38 yard carry. The only thing incorrect about Silva's tweet is that he averaged 1.86 yards on his other 20 touches, not 22.
We know LSH has the ability to break open huge plays with his rare cutback ability and tremendous speed. What he does not have is the size to run the ball up the gut and turn it into 5-6 yards with frequency. He is just too small. That is why the Cardinals will be glad to get Beanie Wells back, shifting Stephens-Howling back into his change-of-pace role.
I am not faulting Stephens-Howling for his lack of yardage outside of the two big runs. He plays to the best of his ability and runs with the plays called for him -- even if they are poor play calls. The offensive line needs to do a better job of opening holes for him without him having to exert some much energy to make a play.
What do you think of this stat? Is it surprising? Do you look at his performance in a different light now? Tell us in the comments section below.