The Cardinal offense needs an ignitor and Chase Edmonds can be that spark-plug.
All he does is produce.
Since being drafted in the fourth round back in 2018, the former Fordham product has always been the under-appreciated member of the Arizona Cardinal offense.
As a rookie in 2018, he helped engineer a road upset victory against the Packers which inevitably lead to firing of then head coach Mike McCaffrey.
Edmonds finished that day with five carries for 56 yards (10.6 ypc) and two touchdowns.
In a season in which it was next to impossible to find offensive production, Edmonds was a bright spot even as a rookie.
Fast forward to 2019, when he was saddled as the backup to then starter David Johnson and eventually Kenyan Drake, Edmonds (in limited touches) rushed for 303 yards on just 60 attempts (5.1 ypc). The Cardinals and Steve Keim likely don’t make the move to trade for Drake should Edmonds not go down against New Orleans in week 8.
That’s because in the week prior, Edmonds would torch the New York Giants for 126 yards and three touchdowns.
Yet a short term injury to the dynamic playmaker cost him his momentum, at least as the Cardinals starting running back.
For comparison sake, below is a breakdown from Edmonds first two years in the NFL:
2018: 60 carries, 208 yards (3.5 ypc) 2TDs
2019: 60 carries, 303 yards (5.1 ypc) 4TDs
What we have is the same amount of carries yet nearly 100 more yards of total production on the ground. The number doesn’t even include the fact that Edmonds averaged nearly 9 yards per catch as a receiver in 2019 (12/105).
Why is that important?
In 2019, while ineffective as a runner, David Johnson was still a very capable receiver for Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray. Johnson finished the season with 370 yards receiving and four touchdowns. That production was more critical then most realize in the development of Kyler Murray, as Johnson was often a safety blanket in the passing game.
I bring that up because as we fast forward to 2020 and the ineffectiveness of starter Kenyan Drake, it’s important to emphasize how much superior of a pass catcher Edmonds is compared to the former. Once again in limited action, Chase Edmonds has 129 yards receiving through five games compared to Drake’s six catches for 22 yards (3.7 ypc).
That’s not a positive trend for Drake, who has been far less effective as Arizona’s featured back compared to what we saw in the second half of 2019. Too often, the former Miami Dolphin tries to bounce his runs outside which leads to minimal gains (if not negative yardage). His inability to break tackles, a staple in 2019, is a big proponent to Arizona’s inability to create lengthly drives offensively.
Meanwhile, despite his size, Edmonds is much more likely to hit the hole while running north and south which often leads to some breakaway runs toward the second level of opposing defenses.
Despite 66 less attempts on the season, Edmonds’ long rush for the year at 29 yards nearly duplicates that of Drake at only 16 yards. The yards per carry, while limited, is staggering when Edmonds (5.0) is averaging nearly a yard in a half more then Drake (3.7) on the season.
Chase Edmonds needs to be the 1A in that backfield.— JJ Zachariason (@LateRoundQB) October 11, 2020
So what needs to be done? Will the Cardinals and Kingsbury have the guts to shift Edmonds into the starting role?
Doubtful but it really doesn’t matter and here’s why.
Arizona just needs to increase the amount of touches given to Edmonds, whether it’s as a runner or pass catcher. He’s a playmaker and a spark-plug that seemingly produces as will when given the opportunity. Whether he starts the game is irrelevant as long as he ends the contest with a certain amount of total touches.
Cardinals Week 5 RB usage (PFF)— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) October 12, 2020
Kenyan Drake: 68% snaps, 18 carries, 1 target
Chase Edmonds: 40% snaps, 3 carries, 6 targets
Chase looked v explosive
Keep in mind that it’s fair to question his usage based on his smaller stature but that doesn’t mean the young playmaker shouldn’t still see 15-20 touches per week.
It wasn’t until the Carolina game earlier this season that broke Edmonds’ touchdown win streak affiliated with the Cardinals. Meaning the redbirds had never previously lost a game in which Edmonds had reached the end zone.
That’s not some throwaway stat, rather proof that the young running back greatly impacts each game especially with his ability to find the end zone.
Chase Edmonds RB1 pic.twitter.com/2XJqht95Yv— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) October 11, 2020
The Cardinal offense has been inconsistent to start this season but it’s clear (especially with the season ending injury to OLB Chandler Jones) that the unit will need to take it’s production to the next level to offset the pending struggles of the Arizona defense.
Arizona currently has the fewest takeaways in football defensively and couldn’t generate much of a pass rush even with Chandler Jones. They have been plagued by injuries at safety and face a daunting stretch of opposing offenses in the coming weeks.
The ideal remedy to an ailing unit would be more of a commitment to the run game which needs to include a large amount of Chase Edmonds. Dallas is the perfect primer for this solution, as the Cowboys are allowing 155.8 yards per game on the ground to opposing offenses.
Earlier this year, Kingsbury was adamant that the Cardinal coaching staff felt like they had two starting caliber backs in Drake and Edmonds. Five weeks into the season, it’s time for the head coach to reflect and act on those comments.
It’s time for the “Chase Edmonds Show” and what better place to debut then on Monday Night Football against America’s Team.