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The All-Time Arizona Cardinals Team Lineup: Running Back

Who should be the starting Cardinals running back on the greatest team ever?

NFL: Super Bowl 50-NFL Honors Red Carpet Entrances Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

In case you missed it, my previous articles can be found at the bottom of this one to go back and vote for your choice for the greatest ever!

Long story short:

I wanted to try a new exercise where the fans could assemble the all-time team for the Arizona Cardinals in the days leading up to a much anticipated training camp.

You take ONE game on a neutral field, pick the best player and go position by position, with Cards fans voting to assemble the greatest game-day roster of Arizona Cardinals in franchise history, period.

Again: Here’s a few of the rules and guidelines

-All players must have played for the Arizona Cardinals

-Players must be remembered as Cardinals foremost, or for a majority of their career (aka saying “Boomer Esiason is the greatest Cardinal quarterback ever” because he was a great QB doesn’t count)

-No impossible offensive alignments (ex. putting four tight ends on the field or finding 6 wide receivers)

-Talent wins over longevity (the goal is to find the team you’d take to win in a game) but that doesn’t mean players who played for the Cardinals forever shouldn’t be counted...

-St. Louis Cardinals do count, and if there’s an argument to be made for a Chicago Cardinal they can be included (however, it might be rare to pick them to win a single game on a field compared to today’s players unless they were the caliber of Jim Brown, for example)

Hopefully that makes sense. Now, let’s take a look at our qualifiers at the quarterback position:

Running Back: (1) Starter

Honorable Mention: Edgerrin James

If someone says “Edgerrin James” to you, the first thought isn’t really with the Arizona Cardinals during that super bowl run, but rather of him playing with Peyton Manning.

Most Cardinals fans rather think of how the team passed on Adrian Peterson because they signed him to a huge deal for a running back the previous offseason. And it’s a shame, as James played three good years in Arizona, rushing for almost 3,000 yards and 16 total touchdowns in 45 games.

Ottis Anderson (1979-1986)

Anderson was one of the Cardinals of the St. Louis era and had maybe one of the best Cardinals rookie seasons in memory.

1605 yards rushing, 8 TD’s and 308 yards receiving with 2 more touchdowns through the air. The dude basically almost had 2,000 yards before David Johnson got there with all purpose.

And he had a heck of a career with Arizona, coming up 1 yard shy of 8,000 with 76 receiving touchdowns and 57 receiving ones and a crazy 4.0 average, with over 1,000 yards rushing each year to start his career minus one which was marred by injury. Still the team’s all-time leading rusher? You bet.

The St. Louis Cardinals weren’t killing teams by any stretch of the imagination during this time, but Anderson sure was and he deserves mention.

Stump Mitchell

While he got props for his work with David Johnson and first shot to being a household name for a new generation thanks to “All or Nothing”, Stump was a Cardinals great for 9 years, spending them all with the Cardinals and even was a part of the move from St. Louis to Phoenix.

Mitchell rushed for 4649 yards and 32 touchdowns as a Card, but did damage through the air as well with 2,000 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns to boot. He really hasn’t gotten his due as far as Cardinal greats especially given his performance over such a long time.

Beanie Wells (2009-2012)

Well, while some Cardinals fans might scoff at this selection, when you look at the names of former Cardinals on this list and look at the criteria of picking one guy to play in one game...Wells’ talent was absurd.

I think he’s definitely a more valuable pick for the team than Tim Hightower despite the super bowl trip given Wells’ talent and all-time rushing record in a game, and it’s notable that he was only just passed by David Johnson recently in stats, gathering 2471 rushing yards and 24 rushing touchdowns in 51 games played.

That’s more impressive when you realize that Arizona was, effectively, without a quarterback through the last 3 years of that stretch and how many games Wells missed. In terms of longevity maybe you’d pass, but given his talent for ONE GAME, I absolutely think Beanie’s talent deserves to be mentioned on this list.

David Johnson (2015-TBD)

There’s other names some might have mentioned. Charley Trippi’s an older one from a much different era of football and I can’t count Garrison Hearst or Thomas Jones given the damage they did as non-Cardinals and aren’t remembered here.

But David Johnson will be, and while it’s definitely early, I think it’s obvious given the poor history of the Running Back position in Arizona that he belongs on this list. His talent as both a runner and receiver is incredible, and he set the rookie TD record for the team in 2015 and proceeded to get nearly 1,000 rushing and receiving in 2016 (crossing the 2,000 total yards mark) and even had nearly 1,500 yards last year as well.

He passed up Beanie Wells’ performance as a running back for his career DESPITE missing an entire season in 2017 and having the 32nd ranked offense in the NFL in 2018. For my money, I think he’s the most talented running back the Cards have ever had and here’s hoping that he will be able to stay healthy, productive, and end up as one of the all-time greats.

So #Birdgang it’s your time to sound off and make your selection!

Is DJ good enough already to make the list? Or do Stump, Ottis have something to say about it? Was Beanie more talented than all of them?

Continue to tune in over the next few weeks to vote for your selections for the All-Time team of the Arizona Cardinals!


Who is the all-time running back for the Arizona Cardinals for ONE game?

This poll is closed

  • 44%
    Ottis Anderson
    (103 votes)
  • 7%
    Stump Mitchell
    (17 votes)
  • 2%
    Beanie Wells
    (6 votes)
  • 45%
    David Johnson
    (105 votes)
231 votes total Vote Now