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Numbers say Andre Ellington needs more space in running game

His ineffectiveness has been in part because he isn't being used to his strengths.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone around the league was expecting a huge 2014 from Arizona Cardinals running back Andre Ellington. So far that hasn't happened. He has over 1000 yards from scrimmage, which makes him only the second player in team history to eclipse that milestone in each of his first two seasons. Ottis Anderson was the other player to do it when he came into the league.

In terms of running the ball, Ellington has 648 yards, but has averaged only 3.3 yards per carry.

Things haven't been ideal for Ellington. He suffered  a foot injury that has limited his practice time all season. Jonathan Dwyer, who was signed to be Ellington's complement, ended up on NFI after domestic abuse charges and threats to hurt himself. Ellington was getting 63 percent of the carries at the time. Since then, he gets over 80 percent of the carries.

Needless to say, he hasn't quite had the impact we all had hoped.

Part of that is his usage.

The numbers say he is not as effective in bigger formations.

When there are three tight ends in the game, he has had 55 rushing attempts, averaging only 2.9 yards per carry. The eye test shows that when the Cardinals go jumbo, they are bad at moving the ball.

It is even worse with two tight ends, which has been their base running set. 75 of is 196 carries have come with two tight ends, which is a Bruce Arians staple. He averages 2.8 yards per carry.

When the field is opened up a bit more -- with just one tight end -- his per carry average goes up to 4.0. He has had 55 carries in this lineup. When there is no tight end? Five carries, averaging over nine yards per carry.

When you look at the number of receivers and his carries, it looks the same. He averages 4.3 yards per carry when there are three wideouts on the field.

Now that the Cardinals have added big back Michael Bush to the mix, what would seem to be ideal would be to have Bush in the game at running back with bigger sets -- two and three tight ends. Ellington would then get the looks with "11" personnel (one back, one tight end, three receivers, which is what the Cardinals use the most on offense)  and other more spread sets.

It would open up the field for Ellington to be able to do what he does best -- make plays in space.