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Schlereth: Cardinals’ David Johnson is not a dynamic offensive player

Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson (31) scores a touchdown in the second half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)

Is Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson still a dynamic offensive player?

NFL analyst Mark Schlereth doesn’t think so.

“Is he really a dynamic offensive player? He got that big contract last year under [Steve] Wilks,” Schlereth told 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Bickley & Marotta on Wednesday.

“Did he ever look last year like a dynamic offensive player? Since [Bruce Arians] left, has he ever looked like a dynamic offensive player? Since the wrist injury? I’ve seen a flash or two. I’ve done plenty of games and I haven’t seen a guy that dominates, that is complete by any stretch of the imagination.”

But to no longer be considered a dynamic offensive player requires becoming one first, which Johnson certainly did in his 2016 campaign.

That season, the former third-round pick out of Northern Iowa had 1,239 rushing yards (77.4 per game) and 16 touchdowns as a ball carrier and 879 yards, four touchdowns and 80 receptions as a pass-catcher.

The combined 2,118 yards from scrimmage and 20 touchdowns led the NFL and awarded him Pro Bowl and First-Team All-Pro honors.

But unfortunately for Johnson, he dislocated his wrist in the very first week of the 2017 season and would require surgery that would sideline him until 2018.

“I think injuries obviously affect that,” Schlereth said. “Obviously scheme to some degree affects it. But the scheme last year — if you go back to what they were last year — they wanted to run the ball, they wanted to double team and run gap systems under Mike McCoy. I know the offensive line wasn’t great but he wasn’t great.”

Last year, Johnson accumulated 940 rushing yards (58.8 per game) and seven touchdowns as a rusher and 446 yards, three touchdowns and 50 receptions as a receiver.

Schlereth would go on to explain that he rates running backs by how many yards they can rush for compared to how many yards the offensive line blocks for.

If the offensive line blocks for three, six, 10 yards, he expects an elite running back to rush for five, 10, 40 yards, respectively.

“As of late, if you block it for five, he’ll get you five,” Schlereth said. “That doesn’t do anything for me. This is not one game or two games. I’ve watched all that film. You can say it’s the scheme or whatever. I don’t think he’s played well the last couple of years.”

Through only three games in 2019, the Cardinals running back has 133 rushing yards for one touchdown and 83 receiving yards on 13 catches for two receiving touchdowns.

Albeit the small sample size, those numbers project Johnson to have a poor rushing season, as he is on pace to only muster 709 yards and five scores.

But what is lost on the ground might be gained through the air, as the running back is on pace for 442 receiving yards on 69 catches and a whopping 11 touchdown receptions.

That flux shouldn’t come as a surprise with head coach Kliff Kingsbury at the helm, who will be looking to utilize Johnson’s skill set in his pass-heavy Air Raid offense.

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