Arizona Cardinals’ Running Back David Johnson is a Rare Talent

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 04: Running back David Johnson #31 of the Arizona Cardinals avoids the tackle of Josh Norman #24 of the Washington Redskins during the fourth quarter of a game at University of Phoenix Stadium on December 4, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
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David Johnson has been whispered by a handful of experts as an MVP candidate this season. He won’t win the award this year, but he is certainly worth examining. The 2016 Arizona Cardinals have been disappointing, to say the least, and their record will certainly cost Johnson the title. If Johnson can stay healthy, this will not be the last time he will is considered for this honor.

Arizona Cardinals’ Running Back David Johnson is a Rare Talent

The Cardinals offense has been centered around Johnson all season long. His ability to run and catch have allowed the Cardinals to find defensive mismatches. Johnson has also been durable this season allowing Arizona to increase the workload of their young running back. These simple facts have enabled him to put up stats that are extraordinary. When asking future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald about Johnson, he can’t help but gush.

“That is rarefied air right there. He’s on Mt. Everest. You kind of run out of superlatives to describe him. He does something special every single game we play.”

“I was messaging [general manager] Steve [Keim] earlier, ‘It’s like we need to get his contract down right now because after every game it’s just getting more and more expensive. He’s going to be like 10 percent owner of the franchise by time his deal is up.'” Fitzgerlad might be right.

Look at the Numbers

Johnson is currently fifth in the league in rushing with 1,233 yards (398 behind the league-leading Ezekiel Elliott), he leads all running backs with 77 receptions and 841 receiving yards. He ranks higher in both categories than wide receivers DeAndre Hopkins, Allen Robinson, and Brandon Marshall.

Johnson is the league leader in total touchdowns with 20, yards from scrimmage with 2,074 and touches with 365. He has 100 yards from scrimmage in all 15 games, tying Barry Sanders for the longest streak in a season. What is even more impressive is this is not just a single season anomaly. Only three players in NFL history have scored more touchdowns in their first 31 games than Johnson: Jim Brown (38), Gale Sayers (37) and Edgerrin James (34).

The list of players that David Johnson continues to find himself among are the best of the best. He must have a monster game in week 17 against the Los Angeles Rams if he is to break the last record on his mind. He needs 159 receiving yards to reach 1000 yards in both rushing and receiving. This would be a truly elite list to join. 64 players have had 2000 yards from scrimmage before, 65 if Elliot can gain at least 4 yards in week 17. But, only Roger Craig and Marshall Faulk have joined the 1000 yard rushing and 1000 yard receiving club. Johnson hopes to be the third.

Final Thoughts

The production of Johnson behind a lackluster offensive line has been incredible. If general manager Steve Keim can improve on this offensive line, Johnson could produce like this for years to come. Cardinals fans should be excited for the future of this young player that still has two years on his rookie contract.


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