ARIZONA CARDINALS

Cardinals offense: Johnson’s challenges, Kirk’s resurgence

Nov 10, 2019, 6:13 PM | Updated: Nov 12, 2019, 2:40 pm
Christian Kirk (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)...
Christian Kirk (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)
(AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)

It’s clear Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson is not the same player he was in 2016.

After a fumble in the 30-27 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he didn’t get another touch. Johnson, once a staple of the offense, was not on the field during crunch time.

Instead, newcomer Kenyan Drake, just two games into his Cardinals career, was the one who got a handoff out of the shotgun on the first play of the final drive of the game.

On 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station after the game, head coach Kliff Kingsbury confirmed that Johnson wasn’t out because of injury-related reasons that plagued him the last few weeks.

When asked if it was a coach’s decision to pull him, Kingsbury answered, “It was.”

Johnson has been slower than Arizona is accustomed to and has not been hitting holes like he did in the past. He had five carries on Sunday for a total of two yards.

While Johnson had been fine in the passing game prior to Sunday’s game, he was starting to lose snaps to backup Chase Edmonds prior to an ankle injury that kept him sidelined for all but a snap of the three games prior to the visit to Tampa Bay.

Now Johnson is getting benched on a two-minute drill in a three-point game.

That’s not ideal for a player whose team faces a cap hit of $14,250,000 next year, per Sportrac.

If this trend continues, Johnson’s role will be a huge question once Edmonds returns from injury.

Christian Kirk success

For the first nine weeks of the season, this deal went unused, as Kirk — in part because he missed three weeks due to injury — did not score a touchdown.

But in an otherwise disappointing loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Kirk was a bright spot of a Cardinals offense that had some very good moments. He had 138 receiving yards and put away three touchdowns in the loss.

He said he has felt fine since his return on Oct. 27, but today he got “back into the groove.”

“When you’re hurt for a couple weeks you just gotta get back into the game speed of things, but today just clicked,” Kirk said on 98.7 FM after the game.

Kirk’s resurgence comes at an ideal time for Arizona. The running back position has obvious holes with Johnson struggling, Edmonds out and Drake still somewhat of a question mark — he had an elite game last week and was OK in limited attempts against the league’s top rushing defense on Sunday, gaining 35 yards on 10 carries.

With him hitting his groove as quarterback Kyler Murray continues to get accustomed to the NFL game, it gives the Cardinals a better chance to continue being explosive as the team looks for its fourth win.

Array

Arizona Cardinals

Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots looks on as Tom Brady #12 of the Tampa Bay Bu...
Dan Bickley

Cardinals have chance to save fans from Brady v. Belichick fatigue

It is up to the Arizona Cardinals to keep the Brady vs. Belichick debate on barstools and out of the upcoming Super Bowl.
18 hours ago
Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals passes the ball against the Chicago Bears in the first hal...
Arizona Sports

Cardinals’ Kyler Murray has 3rd-best MVP odds after return to action

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray is the league leader in completion percentage and yards per attempt.
18 hours ago
Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions is sacked by Nate Hall #48 of the Houston Texans during th...
Arizona Sports

Cardinals add LB Nate Hall to practice squad, cut RB Tavien Feaster

The Arizona Cardinals made three roster moves Tuesday afternoon, including adding linebacker Nate Hall to the practice squad.
18 hours ago
The Arizona Cardinals celebrates around defensive end Zach Allen after Allen's pass of Chicago Bear...
Arizona Sports

How the Arizona Cardinals can clinch a playoff berth in Week 14

Kliff Kingsbury's squad this week can lock in its first postseason appearance since 2015, possibly without a win against the Rams.
18 hours ago
(Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)...
Character Counts

Cardinals nominate Kelvin Beachum as Walter Payton Man of the Year

Offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum is the Arizona Cardinals' nomination for the NFL Man of the Year award this season.
18 hours ago
Head coach Kliff Kingsbury of the Arizona Cardinals on the field before the game against the Seattl...
Tyler Drake

Arizona Cardinals adoption of Buccaneers’ bye-week blueprint pays off

Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury's practice of lifting successful plays or sets from other teams poured over into the bye week in 2021.
18 hours ago
Cardinals offense: Johnson’s challenges, Kirk’s resurgence