Coming into 2018, and off a season in which he missed 15 games with a fractured wrist, Johnson shouldered the expectation that he’d return to his 2016 level with the Arizona Cardinals. That season the running back led the NFL with 2,118 all-purpose yards and 20 touchdowns, rushing for 1,239 yards to go along with 879 yards receiving. He was an All-Pro and a Pro Bowler.
The bar was set. And it was high.
But through the first seven games of this season, Johnson’s performance dipped. He was a casualty of offensive coordinator Mike McCoy’s stagnant offense, producing just one game with 100 yards from scrimmage. In the other six games he never got above 71. He never caught more than five passes in a game. His runs were becoming predictable. He wasn’t used like he had been in the past.nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal
Johnson had 100 yards from scrimmage against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 8 and then topped that in the next game. Johnson had the best game of his season Sunday in Kansas City, running for 98 yards and a touchdown in addition to 85 receiving yards and a score. The 183 all-purpose yards on a season-high 28 touches were his most since Oct. 6, 2016.
“It made me feel like it was back to … two years ago — the 2016 offense,” Johnson said after Sunday’s game. “We got some momentum going as an offense running the ball. We got some good confidence going, as well.”
As the Cardinals prepare to play the Oakland Raiders this Sunday, coach Steve Wilks didn’t mind one bit that Johnson was taken back in time against the Chiefs.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale
“As long as David is getting yardage and he’s getting in the end zone, I don’t care what it feels like,” Wilks said.
Getting Johnson involved is the only thing Leftwich said he knows to do. Against the Chiefs, Johnson had his second-most carries this season (21) and most catches (seven) on his most targets (nine).
“I know what he is,” Leftwich said. “I’m just trying to put these guys in position. I’m not really thinking about 2016. I’m just trying to use the guys and what I know of the playmakers and just put them in position to make plays and if it turns out to be him playing like he was in 2016, that’d be good for us.”
Johnson has been implored by running backs coach Kirby Wilson to run more downhill and not bounce outside as much. The goal, Johnson said, is to turn 1-yard runs into 3-yard gains. While he did it more Sunday in Kansas City, it wasn’t easy. One of Johnson’s favorite moves is the jump-cut. Lowering his shoulder and bulldozing a defender isn’t natural for him, he added. He’d prefer to create with cuts, moves and jukes.