ARIZONA CARDINALS

NFL.com writer: David Johnson is Cardinals’ 2017 MVP hopeful

Jun 15, 2017, 12:30 PM
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It is hard to imagine Cardinals running back David Johnson playing better than he did in 2016.

The second-year pro rushed for 1,239 yards while adding 879 yards through the air, all while scoring an NFL-leading 20 touchdowns.

Even with those numbers, Johnson was hardly even considered for the MVP award when the season came to an end.

One of the main reasons the former third-round pick didn’t get much MVP consideration is the lack of team success, as the Cardinals finished a disappointing 7-8-1.

Had the Cardinals won more and made the playoffs, NFL.com’s Elliot Harrison believes, Johnson would have been at least considered for the award. That’s why heading into the 2017 season, Harrison lists Johnson as the Cardinals 2017 MVP hopeful.

If the Cardinals had won 10 games rather than seven in 2016, Johnson would have given Matt Ryan a run for his money. The NFL leader in yards from scrimmage (2,118) was so consistent that the he failed to total 100 yards just once: in Week 16, when he left early with a knee injury.

Harrison puts Johnson in the category of “Rising tides lift all boats,” star players whose MVP hopes rest on their teams’ level of success.

That’s because without a playoff berth, an MVP award is all but impossible. Just twice has the NFL MVP gone to a player whose team failed to make the playoffs — Johnny Unitas in 1967 and O.J. Simpson in 1973.

Those two had seasons for the ages. Unitas threw for 3,428 yards and 20 touchdowns again in just 14 games, while Simpson became the first player to rush for 2,000 yards in a season, tallying 2,003 yards and 12 touchdowns in 14 games.

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NFL.com writer: David Johnson is Cardinals’ 2017 MVP hopeful