Mike McCoy has a problem with David Johnson
Offensive coordinator Mike McCoy is facing the hardest problem of his career, how to utilize dual-threat running back, David Johnson
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Arizona Cardinals offensive coordinator Mike McCoy has never benefited from a dual-threat running back for as long as he has coached in the NFL. The only season he had a dual-threat in his backfield, 2013 with the duo of Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead. Woodhead was the receiving threat, catching 76 balls for 605 yards and 6 touchdowns. McCoy pounded the rock with Mathews, who rushed 285 times for 1,255 yards and 6 touchdowns. David Johnson is a rushing and receiving threat giving McCoy a conundrum on how to utilize him in the best way.
Johnson’s best season was in 2016, rushing 293 times for 1,239 yards and 16 touchdowns, averaging 4.2 yards. Furthermore, he added 80 receptions on 120 targets for 879 yards and 4 touchdowns to the stat line, averaging 11.0 yards. That adds up to 373 touches for 2,118 yards from scrimmage and 20 touchdowns. Johnson is on a different level than other backs that have played under McCoy and it is not even close.
How should Mike McCoy plan to use David Johnson?
David Johnson missed all of 2017 season with a wrist injury, but he should not suffer lingering effects from it. Therefore, there is no reason that Johnson will suffer a decline in production when he returns to the field. David Johnson’s future in this offense should as a receiving threat. The running back shelf life is shorter than other positions, so splitting Johnson out wide could extend his career.
McCoy’s offense is predicated on the pass, with four years of his offenses finishing in the top-10 in the league for passing yardage. McCoy’s rushing offenses have finished above 20th in rushing yardage for only three years, only three 1,000 yard rushers over nine years. Therefore, Johnson can easily handle 80-85 receptions and with a lighter rushing, that number could increase. A 2,000 all-purpose yard season is not out of the question for him with McCoy’s offense. The real question is, he going to be a thousand yard receiver or a thousand yard rusher?
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2018 Expectations for Mike McCoy and David Johnson:
McCoy should not overwork David Johnson 5 yards behind the line of scrimmage. First, he should get Johnson away from 300-pounders, out in space to crush the smaller defensive backs to use Johnson’s speed and strength. This can be a security measure to limit 300-pound hits to Johnson. But barring injury, I expect Mike McCoy to run David Johnson to a record-setting season.