There will be a new starting running back for the Houston Texans, and there are ways David Johnson can help the team in 2020.
David Johnson will be the top running back for the Houston Texans this upcoming season after playing five years and two playoff games for the Arizona Cardinals since joining the NFL in 2015. Though losing DeAndre Hopkins is tough on the fan base, the addition of Johnson has to be a key focus now because he didn’t make the deal himself to be traded for one of the greatest Texans players of all-time.
Johnson at one time was a top-tier running back. He has the ability to be that again if he can recover from injuries and get the proper number of carries and targets needed to do so, but that wasn’t the case in his final season with the Cardinals.
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In ’19 Johnson played in 13 games and started nine but was overlooked for Kenyon Drake, losing his starting role. Though the Texans saw fit to trade Hopkins and a ’20 fourth-round pick for Johnson, a ’20 second-round pick and a ’21 fourth-round pick, Johnson was going to be no more than a reserve running back with the Cardinals if they re-signed Drake.
Even though the Texans didn’t get enough in return for a top-tier wide receiver — look at the return the Minnesota Vikings are getting for Stefon Diggs — Johnson will soon officially be a Houston Texans running back, and he’s going to gain top yardage and each many passes if he stays healthy.
The season everyone wants to see repeated — especially O’Brien — is the ’16 first-team All-Pro season when Johnson played in all 16 games and on 293 carries he rushed for 1,239 yards with 16 touchdowns. He also caught 80 passes that season for 879 yards and four touchdowns on 120 targets.
Since that season the numbers haven’t been near those achieved, with Johnson playing in just one game in ’17, rushing for 940 yards and seven touchdowns in ’18 — he also caught 50 passes for 446 yards with three touchdowns that season — and in ’19 finished with 94 carries for 345 yards and two touchdowns, along with 36 receptions for 370 yards and four touchdowns.
Now with many numbers out of the way and thoughts of trading Hopkins mentioned — it should have never happened — Johnson will become the focal point of the offense, and expect to see not only more rushes, but his receiving abilities will be key to the Texans’ success as well.
It will be exciting to see how the backfield of David Johnson and Duke Johnson will be utilized as both have the ability to catch the football, and not only that, both are quality running backs as well. Seeing how Deshaun Watson works with Johnson will be exciting to see.
Johnson will help with Watson because of his receiving abilities, and if the Texans can have a running back that catches for 879 yards like Johnson did in ’16 with the Cardinals, that means the offense might be able overcome the trade of Hopkins. Johnson has averaged 35.8 receiving yards per game since joining the NFL, and he caught 67.3-percent of his passes. Since ’17, Johnson has just six fumbles, and he’s totaled 5,3476 yards from scrimmage since ’15.
What Johnson brings to the Texans offense is a chance for offensive coordinator Tim Kelly to get creative and freshen up the offense in terms of some schemes and play-calling if Kelly gets the full green light from O’Brien. The Texans will lack a player like Hopkins who takes pressure off fellow wide receivers, but in exchange have the potential to have their best running back on the roster since Arian Foster.
Thought not being the biggest supporter of how the trade went down, the addition of Johnson can help the Texans offense in a number of ways. The key for Johnson is having an improved offensive line, and more so, having an offense that is creative and not one that is predictable, which is where the Texans were at times in recent memory.
Johnson cost the Texans more than what they gave in return to the Cardinals, but the past All-Pro caliber running back does bring some excitement to the offense if he can be near the player he once was.