ESPN writers: David Johnson NFC West offensive player of the year

Jan 20, 2017, 7:00 PM
Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson (31) runs as Washington Redskins inside linebacker Su'...

Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson (31) runs as Washington Redskins inside linebacker Su'a Cravens (36) defends during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

NFC West writers for ESPN unanimously voted Arizona Cardinals’ running back David Johnson as the division’s offensive player of the year.

Johnson had a historic season, rushing for 1,239 yards and scoring 16 touchdowns on the ground. What’s more impressive is that Johnson caught 80 passes for 879 yards and four touchdowns. His receiving yardage total was the second best on the Cardinals in 2016.

Alden Gonzalez, who covers the Los Angeles Rams, thought that Johnson could have some higher recognition if Arizona was better.

Johnson rushed for 1,239 yards and added another 879 receiving yards. All told, he led the NFL with 2,118 yards from scrimmage and 20 touchdowns. If the Cardinals were a playoff team, Johnson would probably be getting a lot of mention as a potential MVP candidate.

The second-year running back still collected his fair share of accolades, as he was voted into his first Pro Bowl and was selected to be a first team All-Pro.

Johnson may not have led the league in rushing, but Josh Weinfuss, who covers the Cardinals, notes that Johnson led the NFL in other categories.

He set an NFL record for consecutive 100-yard games from scrimmage to start a season, with 15. On top of all that, Johnson was responsible for 36.1 percent of the Cardinals’ total offense — the highest percentage in the league.

Even though he was not the only offensive standout in the division, Sheil Kapadia, who covers the Seattle Seahawks, thinks that Johnson was significantly better.

Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin (94 catches, 1,128 yards) and Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald (107 catches, 1,023 yards) both had excellent seasons, but Johnson separated himself from the pack.

Nick Wagoner, who covers the San Francisco 49ers, compared Johnson’s dual-threat ability to a Hall of Fame running back.

His ability to hurt teams as both a runner and a receiver in 2016 was reminiscent of Marshall Faulk, another former NFC West running back.

That’s high praise for Johnson, but his numbers back it up. After growing his national profile in 2016, Johnson’s return to the gridiron in 2017 should be greatly anticipated.

In fact, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians thinks 2017 could be a historic year for Johnson.

“Sky is the limit. I mean, 200-yard games every week. I’m serious. He’s capable,” Arians said the day after the 2016 season ended.

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