The Arizona Cardinals have gotten off two a slow start dropping their first two games by a combined score of 58-6. Obviously, when you lose by that score over a two-game stretch, there won’t be a lot of positives, if any. One surprising element of the early season struggle is the lack of production from David Johnson.
Where Is The Running Game?
A big reason why the Cardinals running game as a whole and especially Johnson hasn’t got off to a good start has been game circumstance. In the season opener against the Redskins, they were down by 21 at the half, so they were in catch-up mode. It was much of the same in their second game when they were down nineteen at the half.
When teams get down, they are forced to pass to climb their way back into the game. With all the struggles that the Cardinals are having on offense, they need to get Johnson rolling in the right direction.
Breaking Down Johnson’s Numbers
According to ESPN’s Stats, David Jonson is experiencing the most success running the ball on second down with more than six yards to go. Johnson has eight carries for fifty yards in those scenarios and is averaging a healthy 6.3 yards per carry. Those are solid numbers. What is not so solid is his 1.3 yards per carry on first down with ten yards or more to go. That plays a huge part into the early struggles for the offense as a whole because that’s an indication that the Cardinals are behind the chains a lot.
When the running game is struggling for any team, it is never just one person’s fault. This is not all on Johnson. The offensive line plays a part, Sam Bradford, and even offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. Bradford certainly has not helped with his inability to drive the ball vertically on a consistent level. Sam is only averaging a shade under four yards per pass attempt. Teams are keying in on Johnson, which should create opportunities for the passing game to open up, but so far they haven’t been able to take advantage.
The offensive line was a question mark heading into the season for the Cardinals and they have been banged up to start the year. Before the regular season rolled around the Cardinals lost starting center A.Q. Shipley to a torn ACL and rookie Mason Cole has played every snap at center in the first two games.
Through two games Mike McCoy has got to do a better job at being creative with his play-calling. Offensive coordinators can be creative in the running game as well, whether its formations, personnel, or situationally.
Will Johnson Turn It Around?
David Johnson is a terrific running back, and the Cardinals need him to produce. It’s safe to assume that at some point the Cardinals will insert Josh Rosen into the lineup, and Johnson will become that more important to the offense. As previously mentioned, it is not all on Johnson and he will continue to struggle if all moving parts don’t step up as well.