Whatever happened to running the ball?
Both of these teams, at 3-7, are hard to figure out. I remember talking to Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt about the Arizona offense when we had them for a preseason game this year. The Cardinals were going to get back to the old "Steelers West" persona. They were going to run the ball, make it a priority.
I'd put it on the offensive line, which has not played well or consistently this year. Anderson is doing what he can, and, well, they are 3-7. But if you can protect a little bit, you can do some damage against the Niners' secondary. That's a good part of this game to watch. Can Anderson get enough time to use weapons such as WRs Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Breaston? We'll see.
It's a similar story for San Francisco. If you have a running back like Frank Gore, you have to get him some opportunities to make plays every game. The Niners are not doing it. Last week they were down only 7-0 at halftime against Tampa Bay, but they came out throwing. Bombs away! Down the field! I know they have good receivers. But you need to be able to run the ball in this league, especially when your quarterback has three NFL starts. You do not want to ask Troy Smith to win games for you right now. Did he play well in a couple of games? Yes. But he has also looked quite average the rest of the time. He's not ready to take on the burden of the offense.
Both of these teams have to stay on schedule, as we say in football. They have to get yards on the ground and on first and second down. They have to avoid obvious passing situations on third down. The team that handles that better Monday will have a decided advantage.
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