There are two things working against Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson’s candidacy for NFL MVP.
First, and most importantly, Johnson won’t be suiting up for a playoff team. Despite his remarkable numbers, the Cardinals went 7-8-1 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
Second, the league MVP award has been dominated by quarterbacks in recent years. Of the 16 times the hardware has been handed out since 2000, it’s gone to a QB (or been shared by two QBs) 12 times.
But what about the AP Offensive Player of the Year Award? Johnson’s statistics definitely have him in the conversation for that prestigious award, and deservedly so.
Johnson had 2,118 yards from scrimmage and 20 touchdowns, leading the league in both categories. He’s the first player to lead the NFL in both since Kansas City’s Priest Holmes, who did it in 2002, with 2,287 yards and 24 touchdowns.
In fact, since the Offensive Player of the Year Award was first handed out in 1972, Johnson is only the sixth player to have the most total yards from scrimmage and touchdowns in a season, joining the likes of Holmes, Emmitt Smith (1995), Marcus Allen (1982), Walter Payton (1977) and O.J. Simpson (1975).
Only Holmes and Payton won the award. Smith, Allen and Simpson were all beaten out by quarterbacks who accomplished remarkable offensive feats.
In 1995, Green Bay’s Brett Favre won the OPOY by throwing for 4,413 yards and 38 touchdowns while leading the Packers to an 11-5 mark and a spot in the NFC Championship Game.
In the strike-shortened 1982 season, Dan Fouts won the award, beating out Allen, by throwing for an average of 320.3 yards per game, which set a new league record at the time and still stands ninth on the all-time list.
Simpson lost out to Minnesota quarterback Fran Tarkenton, who led the league with 25 touchdown passes and guided the Vikings to the NFC Championship Game for the third straight year.
Can anyone in this season’s field trump Johnson’s accomplishments?
New England’s Tom Brady registered the best touchdown-to-interception ratio in the history of the league by tossing 28 touchdown passes and only two picks in 12 games.
Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers led the league with 40 touchdown passes and became only the fourth player in league history to have 40 or more twice, joining Peyton Manning, Dan Marino and Drew Brees.
Speaking of Brees, he led the league in passing yards for the seventh time and third straight year by throwing for 5,208 — the fourth-highest total in league history.
Atlanta’s Matt Ryan enjoyed the best season of his nine-year NFL career by throwing for 4,944 yards and 38 touchdowns to 13 different players, which is a new league record.
Dallas rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott led the league with 1,631 rushing yards and had seven 100-yard games for the Cowboys, who won 13 games.
Is any of that enough to top Johnson, who tied a league record by registering 100 or more yards from scrimmage in 15 straight games and had eight multi-touchdown games to go along with his other accomplishments?
We think not.
David Johnson should clear his calendar for Feb. 4 in order to collect his Offensive Player of the Year Award at the NFL Honors ceremony in Houston.
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