3 early goals for David Johnson in 2019 with the Cardinals
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3 early goals for David Johnson in 2019 with the Cardinals

David Johnson, Cardinals

David Johnson needs to bounce back in 2019. After his 2017 season was cut short by injury, his 2018 season was a big disappointment as well.

He never thrived in Mike McCoy’s offense, but he has a golden opportunity now with Kliff Kingsbury. The Arizona Cardinals signed him to a big extension last September, and now he needs to deliver.

Here are three early goals for Johnson heading into 2019:

1. Stay healthy

The most important thing for Johnson is to stay healthy.

He came back from injury last season but only played in one game in 2017, and needs to be fully available to regain his workhorse role in a new offensive system. Johnson was pretty old when he entered the league back in 2015, and he’s already 27 now.

He likely only has a couple of prime years left, and he needs to make the most of them by staying on the field.

If he can play in all 16 games, he should be poised for a breakout year in Kingsbury’s offense.

2. Get more involved in the passing game

When Johnson erupted in 2016 for one of the best recent seasons by a running back, he dominated both on the ground and through the air.

He racked up 1,239 yards and 16 touchdowns rushing, but he also caught 80 passes for 879 yards and another four touchdowns. He’s an excellent route runner out of the backfield, and the Cardinals need to take advantage of that again.

Last year he didn’t receive nearly as many targets, and he only caught 50 passes for 446 yards. Thankfully, he should receive more opportunities for targets under Kingsbury.

Kingsbury is going to run a much faster offense that will spread the field more, and Johnson should be plenty involved in the passing game again.

3. Earn Kingsbury and Kyler Murray’s trust

The most important thing will be establishing a connection with Kingsbury and his new quarterback Kyler Murray.

Johnson has shown he can produce big numbers in the past with the Cardinals, but he doesn’t have any ties to this current coaching staff, and his last great season was in 2016. Johnson needs to establish a rapport with Murray in training camp, and show the coaching staff that they can still trust him to tote the ball 20+ times a game.

If he and Murray can get on the same page, Murray will trust him as his safety blanket operating over the middle. Kingsbury will surely call more plays for him both rushing and receiving, once they form a bond.

This summer and preseason will be pivotal to Johnson establishing himself as the three-down back that he wants to be once again.