For Arizona Cardinals fans, the player they wanted to see more and more of was running back Andre Ellington. As the season progressed, they got it and he was the offense's most dynamic player.
He is expected to do even more in 2014. In fact, in the NFL.com Around the League countdown of players predicted to "make the leap" or have a breakout season, Ellington is number three on that list.
Kevin Patra, who wrote the piece on Ellington, notes that Ellington "pops off the screen" when you watch the game tape. He shares the impressive stat of Ellington's eight runs of more than 20 yards, which matched DeMarco Murray and Adrian Peterson, who both had significantly more carries.
Add the big plays to an expected increased workload and offense tailored around Ellington's skills, and you have why he is a player you could say who is destined for a big year.
How big of a workload is Arians willing to heap on the running back? While the coach suggested Ellington could take 30 carries if needed, Arians is a self-admitted liar. Still, an uptick to 220 to 230 carries (an average of 14 carries per game) and 45 to 55 catches (3.5 per game) would be a massive increase in the runner's workload.
Even if his flamboyant 5.5 yards-per-carry average dips due to the boosted burden, an 1,100-yard rushing season and 550-yard receiving season splashed with highlight-reel plays is not unattainable and would be a monumental boon for the Cardinals' pass-first offense.
Those numbers aren't unreasonable. If he gets 230 carries and averages 4.5 yards a shot, that is 1035 yards. 230 carries is between 14 and 15 carries a game. 550 yards receiving is almost 35 yards a game.
1500 yards from scrimmage is completely attainable, assuming Ellington can play all season. He did suffer from a few minor injuries (and a yanked lock of hair).
The truth is, those sort of projections are just a little more than what he did in the team's final eight games. He averaged just over 11 carries per game for just under 60 yards per game. He caught 2.5 passes per game for just under 23 yards per game. Three more carries and a catch or two more per game as a starter is not crazy.
Just how good can he be? If he averages 100 yards from scrimmage per game, he is more than anyone bargained fro when he was taken in the sixth round. If he can do it with about 20 touches a game, even better. That way he will more likely to be able to do it for longer.
If you get 1500 yards from scrimmage from Ellington and 1000 yards each from Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd, that is a lot of offense from three players and does not even include the contributions of Jonathan Dwyer and Stepfan Taylor to the running game, and of the tight ends or slot receivers in the passing game.
Is all this truly possible?
How good will the Cardinals offense be in 2014?
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