Facing an explosive Seattle Seahawks offense, the Arizona Cardinals managed to outscore Russell Wilson and Co. in a thrilling overtime victory on Sunday Night Football. However, the win came at a cost, as Kenyan Drake had to get carted off the field with what appeared to be a serious ankle injury.
Now that his health status has become clear, the Cardinals will have to get by without the talented running back over the next few weeks. Will Drake’s absence cause Arizona to slip on offense? Or can Kliff Kingsbury find a way to keep the Cardinals rolling as they attempt to earn their first playoff berth since 2015?
Arizona has had no trouble putting up points this season
Last season, the Cardinals showed tremendous improvement in the first year of the Kliff Kingsbury-Kyler Murray era. After finishing dead-last in points and total yards in 2018, Arizona climbed all the way to 16th and 21st, respectively.
With DeAndre Hopkins in the fold, the Cardinals have been even more explosive on offense. Arizona currently ranks ninth in scoring and second in total yards. In their first seven games, the Cardinals have scored at least 30 points four times, including 37 against the Seahawks.
While most football fans would associate Kingsbury with a wide-open passing attack, Arizona surprisingly leads the NFL in rushing with 1,125 yards. Murray has racked up 437 of those and has also punched in seven touchdowns on just 65 carries. Kenyan Drake has totaled 512 yards and four TD on 119 carries. Chase Edmonds has provided plenty of production as a runner and as a receiver.
The Cardinals just suffered a massive blow to their offense
On Sunday, the Cardinals may have surrendered 572 total yards and 34 points, but they still emerged with a win thanks to a monster day by their offense. Murray thoroughly dominated with his dual-threat skillset and finished the night with 360 passing yards, 67 rushing yards, and four total touchdowns.
However, Kenyan Drake had to exit the game prematurely due to an ankle injury. Prior to leaving the game, the 2016 third-round pick had totaled just 34 rushing yards on 14 carries.
On Monday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter provided an update on Drake’s health status. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, they just suffered a massive blow to their offense.
According to Schefter, Drake will miss “a few weeks” due to a slight tear of a ligament in his ankle. The team reportedly is treating his injury like a high-ankle sprain, which typically takes a couple of weeks to heal depending on the severity.
For the Cardinals, losing one of the NFL’s most productive running backs certainly hurts. Drake currently ranks third in the league in total rushing yards. Only Derrick Henry (143) and Todd Gurley (122) have more carries than the 26-year-old RB. Moving forward, it’ll be up to Kingsbury to find a way to replace Drake’s production until he can return.
Who will step up with Kenyan Drake out?
Two years ago, the Cardinals spent the 134th overall pick on Chase Edmonds. After serving as a part-time piece in the last two seasons, the 24-year-old will have to take on a more prominent role.
Despite measuring in at just 5-foot-9, 210 pounds, the former small-school star has flashed tantalizing potential. Last season, Edmonds averaged 5.1 yards per carry and caught 12 passes for 105 yards.
This year, he has been even more explosive with the ball in his hands. Though he’s carried the ball just 29 times, Edmonds has averaged 6.1 yards per carry. As a receiver, he’s proven to be a difficult matchup for linebackers and safeties. The third-year pro has already racked up 26 catches for 222 yards and two touchdowns after totaling 32/208/1 in his first two NFL seasons.
With Kenyan Drake out for the next few weeks, Edmonds must prove he can withstand the physical toll of being the team’s No. 1 RB. Given the team’s razor-thin depth at the position, perhaps the Cardinals could look to make a trade or sign a free agent in order to bolster their backfield.
Spencer Ware, who just won a Super Bowl ring with the Kansas City Chiefs, could be a short-term solution. The 28-year-old brings 43 games of experience to the table and has proven capable of handling starting duties. In 2016, Ware racked up 921 yards on 214 carries as the Chiefs’ top RB. The 5-foot-10, 224-pounder would provide a powerful punch to complement Edmonds’ explosion.
Ultimately, the Cardinals need to make a move to replace Kenyan Drake. Let’s see how Steve Keim addresses his team’s newest need.
All statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference.