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David Johnson Feeling Like It's 2016 Again

Cardinals' running back sets season highs in rushing, receiving yards against Chiefs

RB David Johnson scores his first touchdown of the game in the first quarter.
RB David Johnson scores his first touchdown of the game in the first quarter.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – There isn't much that rattles David Johnson, as a smile seems permanently attached to his face.

The Cardinals' star running back admits, though, that the first seven games of the season weren't easy. Johnson's touches were less than ideal during that stretch, and when he was getting the ball, it often wasn't in space.

The promotion of Byron Leftwich to offensive coordinator has seemingly fixed that. Johnson totaled 100 yards from scrimmage in Leftwich's debut last time out against the 49ers, and was even better in Sunday's 26-14 loss to the Chiefs.

Johnson finished with a season-high 98 rushing yards on 21 carries and had seven catches for 85 yards, also season bests. He had both of the team's touchdowns in the contest.

"The first eight weeks were tough, trying to get used to a new type of offense," Johnson said. "It was tough, but the biggest thing is I'm glad we're coming back to the old ways."

Leftwich's goal upon moving into the playcaller role was to deploy Johnson like he was used in 2016, when Johnson nearly became the third player in NFL history to finish with 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in a season.

Johnson didn't surpass 41 yards receiving in the first eight games but more than doubled that in this one. His longest catch came on a vertical route out of the backfield against a linebacker.

He scored a touchdown on a sprint-out in the first quarter as the Chiefs defender couldn't keep up. Quarterback Josh Rosen said he has become more comfortable with Johnson in the passing game over the past few weeks.

"He's repping more of it in practice as it comes into the game plan, so definitely confidence starts to go up," Rosen said.

Johnson had nice production on the ground, continually finding holes and bursting through them. He finished with a 4.7 yards-per-carry average after averaging 3.2 yards per carry on the year heading in.

"We knew we were going to be able to run the football against these guys, and we showed that," coach Steve Wilks said.

The Cardinals only scored 14 points against Kansas City, and the offense will need to develop more options to become more effective down the stretch. However, at least the best offensive weapon on the team is looking like himself again.

"It felt good," Johnson said. "It made me feel like it was back to the 2016 offense."

Images from the Week 10 matchup in Kansas City

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