David Johnson was out there most of the time. Of the 12 third downs the Cardinals ran against Seattle, Johnson was on the field for 10 of them (and yes, I realize there is a strong argument for him to be on the field for all 12). The reason third down is a touch point in this season of constant analysis of Johnson's usage comes back to explanations -- both from coach Steve Wilks and Johnson himself.
Wilks, talking about what Johnson most needs to improve, was blunt. "Just some of his protections in the pass pro," Wilks said. "That's the biggest thing right now."
Johnson has talked often about his mental errors in pass protection. Of his 10 third-down plays, all in shot gun, Johnson was given the ball on a running play three times. He went out for passes on the other seven, although there were a few in which he looked like he chipped on his way out of the backfield or paused looking for a blitzer to pick up. He didn't split wide at all.
Johnson lamented after the game how he had "too many mental errors," although one of his biggest mistakes was physical -- he lost a fumble deep in Arizona territory. The Cardinals dodged that problem when Seattle missed a field goal. But if Johnson is indeed making multiple errors, that inevitably is going to give pause to coaches.
"You can’t fumble, that’s giving the other team an opportunity to score, especially where I did it at," Johnson said. "Anytime I fumble, or I miss a block and like I said put pressure on Josh and get him hit, it’s never a good thing.”
Wilks praised Johnson for being forthright. And Johnson was used more against the Seahawks, something that -- again -- figures to be important going forward for the Cards to find some victories.
“David is a perfectionist," Wilks said. "He wants to do it right every time. He had some things that he wishes he could take back, but he did some things well out there. When you have players like that that aren’t really concerned about the great plays, but are trying to make sure that they make the corrections on the ones they messed up, that’s when you’re going to see a difference in your team. I’m excited that he’s expressing that, and I know that he’s going to make the corrections.”