David Johnson: Cardinals can win NFC West without him

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 24: David Johnson
CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 24: David Johnson /

Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson is out 2-3 months with a wrist injury. Do the Cardinals have any shot to win the NFC West without him in the lineup?

David Johnson had the ultimate breakout season for the Arizona Cardinals in 2016.  He had 1,239 yards rushing and 16 TD’s to go along with 80 catches for 879 yards and 4 more TD’s.  Absolutely amazing production from one player.

A 1,000 yard rushing and 1,000 yard receiving season for David Johnson in 2017 was not out of the question.  So Johnson’s presence in the Arizona Cardinals offense was huge.  Replacing his production is a huge task, but it’s not impossible.

First off, as good as David Johnson is, he’s just one man. Even with the incredible season he had last year, the Cardinals could only muster a 7-8-1 record.  So a great individual season for Johnson, but it didn’t translate in the Arizona Cardinals accomplishing their team goals.

The Cardinals have proven they can win without David Johnson as they did in 2014 when they went 11-5 and Carson Palmer made only six starts that year.  They went 13-3 in 2015 with running back by committee and Chris Johnson not David Johnson was their leading rusher.

So it can be done, but obviously the Arizona Cardinals need other players to step up.  Kerwynn Williams has shown in limited opportunities that he has potential.  Andre Ellington is a versatile player out of the backfield, so along with Johnson the Cardinals still have options at running back.

But David Johnson was also the Arizona Cardinals best receiver.  Yes, Larry Fitzgerald remains and he’s still a good receiver, but he’s going to need some help.  Wide receiver John Brown’s numbers dropped off last year after a huge 2015 season because of health issues.

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But if John Brown is healthy, the opportunity is there for more targets and production.  The Cardinals need him to bounce back.  Quarterback Carson Palmer is also under a microscope.  Without David Johnson, the pressure is on Palmer to perform at a higher level.

However, it’s not just on offense, the Arizona Cardinals defense can play an even bigger role in making up for the loss of Johnson.  The Cardinals  defense is ranked in the top five of the NFL the past two seasons.

The defense got off to a rough start against the Detroit Lions but if they can return to form, it will help ease the loss of Johnson’s impact on the offense.  They have good pass rushers in Chandler Jones and Markus Golden and there’s talent in the secondary with Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu.

So yes, David Johnson’s injury is a devastating blow, but the Arizona Cardinals still have the talent on both sides of the ball to contend for the division title.  And head coach Bruce Arians is one of the best in the league, so that might be their biggest asset for winning without David Johnson.

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And lastly, a loss like Johnson’s can have a unifying effect on a team as well.  Sometimes instead of a team falling apart in the face of adversity, it has the exact opposite effect and brings the team together to overcome it.  One man can’t do this, it’s going to take the team and the Arizona Cardinals have the team to do it.