Johnson is excited to work out of shotgun formations in new coach Kliff Kingsbury's offense, Darren Urban of the Cardinals' official site reports. "I actually love that," Johnson said. "I did that in college. That's all we did in college is the gun, a read-option-type thing. I think it really opens up more space for me and makes me able to read the defense a little bit more."
Johnson won't be a forgotten player during draft season, but his lackluster showing last year (3.6 yards per carry, just five games with 100-plus yards from scrimmage) and a lost campaign in 2017 could make him a bit of a bargain. As mentioned, his experience with Kingsbury's favored scheme may help him harken back to his 2016 breakout, when he cranked out 2,118 scrimmage yards and 20 total touchdowns. Perhaps the only question yet to be answered is who will be directing the Cardinals offense this season. The incumbent is 2018 first-rounder Josh Rosen, but 2018 Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray frequently has been linked with Kingsbury since he was hired in January. A running back can be a young quarterback's best friend, so Johnson shouldn't have a problem producing no matter who is under center.
During Steve Wilks' one-year run as the head coach in Arizona, the Cardinals cycled through Mike McCoy and Byron Leftwich at offensive coordinator, but neither helped Johnson return to form after a lost season in 2017 due to a dislocated left wrist. Overall, Johnson managed just five outings with 100-plus yards from scrimmage and earned five or more targets on six occasions last year after racking up 15 and 14, respectively, during the course of his 2016 breakout. The new coaching staff under Kliff Kingsbury has started to take shape, with James Saxon taking over as running backs coach after working with the likes of Le'Veon Bell, James Conner and Jaylen Samuels in Pittsburgh in recent campaigns. Kingsbury has yet to hire an offensive coordinator, but the presence of Saxon is an early indicator that Johnson is in good hands yet again.
Johnson rushed for 62 yards on 17 carries during Sunday's 27-24 loss to Seattle. He also caught three of his four targets, managing six receiving yards on the afternoon.
Johnson has been tremendously inefficient as a rusher of late, never exceeding 3.7 yards per carry over any of his past six starts, and accounting for just two total touchdowns on 134 touches since Week 11. Following a 2017 season lost to a wrist injury, he's been as durable as any back in the league throughout this 2018 season by averaging a robust 16.1 attempts per game, while fielding north of 300 offensive touches for the second time in his career. If the Cardinals front office can find a way to bolster the offensive line in front of him, Johnson is highly probable to finish as a top 10 fantasy back for the third time in four seasons.
As his final numbers implied, Johnson couldn't get much of anything going on the ground, but a 32-yard touchdown reception on a throw off the arm of Larry Fitzgerald in the second quarter prevented his fantasy day from being a total washout. A 2018 season that held great promise as a comeback year for Johnson is finishing on a down note, as he's now failed to eclipse 3.7 yards per carry in five consecutive games and has scored just once over that span. Johnson has still flashed his pre-2017 explosiveness on multiple occasions, but his frequently pedestrian outputs have largely been a function of the ineptitude around him on offense. He'll look to put together a strong finish and head into the offseason with some momentum when the Cardinals face the Seahawks in Week 17.
Johnson rushed for 33 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries during Sunday's 40-14 loss to the Falcons. He added 68 yards on three catches.
Sunday started about as well as you could have hoped for Johnson. Rookie quarterback Josh Rosen hit him for gains of 40 and 15 yards during the Cardinals' opening drive before Johnson punched it in from one yard out, breaking a four-game scoreless streak. A Rosen pick-six on the next Arizona possession and some big chunk plays from the Falcons put the game out of reach shortly thereafter. It's a credit to Johnson that he's managed to average nearly 90 total yards per game for what has been a woeful Arizona team. A tough road lays ahead in Weeks 16 and 17 versus the division-rival Rams and Seahawks, squads that have collectively held Johnson to just 3.4 yards per carry this season.
|Year||Team||G||Fum||Lost||Fum Forced||Own Rec||Opp Rec||Yds||Tot Rec||TD|