Johnson, Wilson split ESPN’s preseason NFC West MVP votes

Jul 14, 2017, 6:13 AM | Updated: 11:28 am
Seattle Seahawks' Ahtyba Rubin, left, and Bobby Wagner tackle Arizona Cardinals' David Johnson on a...

Seattle Seahawks' Ahtyba Rubin, left, and Bobby Wagner tackle Arizona Cardinals' David Johnson on a carry by Johnson in the second half of an NFL football game, Saturday, Dec. 24, 2016, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

After putting up an NFL-leading 2,118 yards from scrimmage and 20 touchdowns, it’s hard to imagine that anyone in the NFC West was better than David Johnson last season.

But for the MVP of the division, the nod may have gone to the best player on a playoff team, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. Along with the playoff berth, Wilson threw for 21 touchdowns and a career-high 4,219 yards.

With both players acting as the main catalyst for their respective teams in 2016, it’s no surprise that ESPN’s NFC West reporters split their 2017 division MVP votes between Johnson and Wilson.

Here, Cardinals reporter Josh Weinfuss makes his case for Johnson:

 Cardinals coach Bruce Arians has said multiple times this offseason that he wants Johnson to get 30 touches a game in a mix of runs and catches. There’s the obvious benefit: If Johnson can continue on the torrid pace he set last year, he’ll be the centerpiece of the offense and produce the type of yards and touchdowns that can help the Cardinals get back to the playoffs. . . However, it won’t be surprising if his production slows as defenses home in on him. By the end of the season, however, Johnson will affirm himself as the division’s MVP. His pass catching, pass protection and vision will improve this season, making him maybe the toughest back in the NFL to stop.

Seahawks reporter Sheil Kapadia made the argument for Wilson as MVP.

Wilson. There’s no mystery as to why the Seahawks’ offense struggled last year. Wilson suffered three injuries that reduced his mobility and caused him to get heavier than he would have liked. The 2016 season was a great example of how much Wilson means to Seattle — both in the running game and the passing game. When healthy, he can make up for deficiencies on the offensive line, and without his legs, the running game is mediocre at best. With Doug Baldwin, Jimmy Graham, Tyler Lockett and C.J. Prosise, this could end up being the best group of pass-catching weapons that Wilson has ever had. Assuming his health holds, look for him to get back to his 2015 form.

If Arians gets his wish by increasing Johnson’s workload to 30 touches be game, the former third-round pick could become the third player ever to notch 1,000 rushing and 1,000 receiving yards in a season, a mark he missed last year by just 121 receiving yards.

If this were a real MVP vote conducted at the end of the season, the award would most likely go to — as most MVP votes do — the player whose team makes the playoffs.

If Johnson can match or increase his stats from a year ago while helping the Cardinals to the playoffs, there’s a good chance he would be the division MVP and possibly be mentioned as an NFL MVP candidate.

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Johnson, Wilson split ESPN’s preseason NFC West MVP votes