Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians loves to throw the football. His offenses traditionally are unbalanced in that way run versus the pass. But this past offseason, there has been a deliberate effort to improve the running game.
They signed Pro Bowl guard Mike Iupati, who is known for being a punishing run blocker. A.Q. Shipley was signed to play center and he was highly rated against the run last season. They drafted a big and fast running back in David Johnson -- a guy they believe can not only spell Andre Ellington, but also complement him in the run and passing game.
It isn't just lip service. Guard Jonathan Cooper was asked about the focus on the running game when he was a guest on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.
"It does seem like it (there is a focus on the running game)," Cooper said. "We've added a few more run plays to the script. The coaches are emphasizing pushing the sled. We've don't that more than it seems we did last year."
He also noted that it isn't just increased reps in the run game.
According to Cooper, the coaches are saying, "'run the ball, run the ball, that's what we need to do. If we do it early enough, we can continue to run the ball. If we don't do well early enough, then we won't run the ball.'"
There is the key.
The Cardinals will run the ball more...if they run well early on.
Bruce Arians is still Bruce Arians. He will bail on the running game if it isn't going well.
Perhaps we should wait and see how patient he is.
Of course, maybe -- just maybe -- the running game will always be successful early in games in 2015. That way we never see Arians abandon it.
It will be an interesting pattern to watch -- how much will the Cardinal run the ball if they don't do it well to start with. Some would argue you have to keep trying for the sake of trying to wear the other team down. Of course, you have to have at least a little bit of success.
Will Arians change his colors and be patient with the running game? What do you think?