Kliff Kingsbury likes to throw the football, but that doesn’t mean his star running back will be relegated to the background in 2019.
The Cardinals’ new coach debuted his Kingsbury Chronicle Podcast on Tuesday afternoon, and in it discussed his plans to make David Johnson a focal point of the offense.
“He’s such a tremendous talent, whether it’s running the football or catching the ball, the screen game,” Kingsbury said. “We’ve got to get him his touches and get him going and make him comfortable in what we do. He’s going to have a major role. There’s no doubt.”
Johnson was an All-Pro in 2016, racking up 1,239 rushing yards, 879 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns. He missed nearly all of 2017 with a wrist injury and did not come close to those numbers in 2018.
Johnson finished last season with 940 rushing yards, 446 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. His 3.6 yards per carry and 8.9 yards per catch were both career lows as the Cardinals had trouble optimizing his talents.
Much of Johnson’s value comes from his pass-catching ability, but he lined up as a receiver only seven percent of the time last year, according to Ian Hatitz of FantasyLabs.com. Johnson lined up as a wideout 20 percent of the time in 2016.
Kingsbury is known for his innovative offensive schemes, and will aim to set up advantageous scenarios for Johnson.
“He’ll get it all sorts of ways,” Kingsbury said. “We’ve got to be creative in how we get him the ball.”
While Kingsbury directed an Air Raid offense at Texas Tech, there were variations from year to year. As he transitions to the NFL, there will be an emphasis on playing to the strengths of Johnson, quarterback Josh Rosen and the rest of the offense.
“I’ve never been one that’s just going to (say), ‘Hey, this is what we’re going to run no matter what,’” Kingsbury said. “That hasn’t worked for me. So whatever we have offensively and the skill we have and the players we have, let’s make it fit them. That’s something we’ve done in the past and hope to continue to do at this level.”