Thank You David Johnson

The NFL is sadly predictable when it comes to critical acclaim. Far too often, players are recognised because of their reputation or persona rather than just their on-field performances.
Marquee names such as JJ Watt and Odell Beckham Jr obviously deserve praise. After all, they’re great players. The issue is that their marketability often helps them become the media’s favourite pupils in a class where several others deserve more attention and, this season, David Johnson is top of that class.


The Arizona Cardinals running back has been in absolutely tremendous form since his arrival in the league last season. Despite only starting 5 games, the rookie out of Northern Iowa put up 581 rushing yards, 457 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns in 2015. Even after checking those figures on several websites, I still find them hard to believe.
This season, Johnson has continued his sensational form, turning into the engine room of the Arizona offense. Along with the peerless Larry Fitzgerald, he’s one of the few players who have exceeded expectations in a disappointing campaign for the franchise so far.
Dynamic play sets Johnson apart from the rest
Pass-catching running backs are relatively common in the NFL, but Johnson is not a common running back.
Johnson has over 500 passing yards already this season, along with two touchdown catches. Rather than acting as just a check-down option for Carson Palmer, he’s lined up all over the line of scrimmage a la Le’Veon Bell. With Larry Fitzgerald as the team’s only truly dependable receiver, Johnson’s versatility has been crucial, with defenses struggling to account for his explosive style.
Catching isn’t an easy skill that running backs can easily develop, either. Let’s look at Adrian Peterson. AP is one of the greatest ball carriers of all time, but he’s never been a reliable receiver and top defenses have learned how to stop him by stacking the box. They’re not too concerned about Peterson when the ball is in the air, as they know he’s extremely limited as a route runner. In comparison, stopping Johnson’s unique playmaking abilities is a far more complex task. Simply put, Arizona’s offense revolves around this 221-pound phenom and you can’t blame them.
Explosiveness sometimes cannot be stopped
While receiving is a key strength of David Johnson’s game, his 863 rushing yards so far this season put him behind only DeMarco Murray and Ezekiel Elliott. In all-purpose yardage, he’s just nine yards behind Elliott with 1,373.
The Cardinals don’t have a particularly strong offensive line either, especially compared to the Cowboys and Titans. Carson Palmer is the second-most sacked QB in the league and the O-line’s poor play is one of the main reasons why last year’s aggressive downfield passing style hasn’t worked this season.
While Murray and Elliott have benefitted from space in the open field, Johnson has often relied on his explosiveness to make gaps for himself. Whether it’s by using raw power to run through people, or by juking his way through holes with speed that defies his size, he’s been able to make something out of nothing regularly with average run blocking in front of him.
What’s scary is that Johnson could become better. He’s putting up outstanding numbers in a team that has struggled with passing all season and it’s only his second year. Defenses are zeroing in on him and he’s still performing at an elite level. If Carson Palmer and the offensive line are able to return to their strong air attack, the run game could be even more impressive.
In a season plagued with injuries, criticism from fans and poor ratings, not enough people have talked about David Johnson.