Heading into the 2017 NFL season, many expected Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson to become one of the top backs in the league. Unfortunately, he ended up going down with a season-ending injury early on in the season. Johnson was only able to play in one game, carrying the football 11 times for 23 yards.
Arizona took a major step back in 2017, finishing the season with an 8-8 record. Without Johnson, the offense took a major turn for the worse. Add in the fact that Carson Palmer also missed a good chunk of the season due to injury and the Cardinals simply couldn’t overcome their losses.
Looking ahead to 2018, Johnson is looking to come back with a bang and reclaim his position at the top of the running back position in the NFL.
“My goal is 1,000 receiving yards and 1,500 rushing. I just have to beat my stats from 2016. That’s my goal.”
During the 2016 season with the Cardinals, Johnson ended up carrying the football 293 times for 1,239 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also caught 80 passes for 879 yards and four touchdowns.
At just 26 years old, Johnson is ready to become the superstar that everyone thought he would be in 2017. He is ready to prove that he is the best all-around running back in the NFL. Becoming that top running back ahead of guys like Todd Gurley and Le’Veon Bell is not going to be an easy task.
— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) April 3, 2018
Johnson is known for hard work and dedication to the game. Even after his injury, Johnson was working hard for his recovery and pushing himself to try to get back to full strength as soon as possible. He talked about his work ethic and how injuries made him work even harder.
“I’m never going to lose that. But this time, it’s because of injuries. I lost a whole year. And now that I’m back, there all these young running backs who have come into the league. I have to go out and show my dominance again. I have to prove that the David Johnson of 2016 is back. That he’s an improved David Johnson. That’s the biggest thing.”
Establishing the ground game is going to be even more important for the Cardinals with rookie quarterback Josh Rosen likely starting. Arizona could start Sam Bradford or Mike Glennon, but Rosen was the most NFL-ready quarterback in the draft in quite a few different areas. He is more talented than both Bradford and Glennon and should find a way to win the starting job at some point in 2018.
If the Cardinals can get the Johnson from 2016, their offense is going to be lethal. Johnson wants to be even better than he was in 2016, which would give opposing defensive coordinators nightmares.
Throughout his young career, Johnson has learned a lot from veteran wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. He opened up a bit about the advice that he has been given.
“He’s taught me a lot of stuff. How to conduct myself. How to always be a professional no matter where you’re at because you never know who has a camera on you. How to always be well-dressed and how to be financially smart. Learn the word, ‘no.’ He’s taught me to save money, especially now that I have a young son. How to develop the right work ethic. How to talk smack with my teammates, and how to be smart about it and not rude.”
All of that being said, it will be interesting to see what happens with Johnson in 2018. Predicting his numbers isn’t too difficult, although future injuries are always a concern.
It would be reasonable for fans to expect Johnson to rack up around 300 carries for 1,350 yards and 15 touchdowns. He should also be able to come through with at least 75 receptions for 800 yards and five touchdowns, especially if a rookie quarterback is starting.
Expect to see Johnson get back to being the star of the show in Arizona. He may not put up the 1,500 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards that he is targeting, but he isn’t going to be far off if he stays healthy.