Holt sees some Faulk in David Johnson

Posted by Darren Urban on June 6, 2017 – 10:22 pm

Torry Holt is helping coach the Cardinals receivers this week, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t appreciate the running game. In his years as a Pro Bowl wideout with the Greatest Show On Turf, he played with one of the greatest running backs in NFL history: Marshall Faulk. Tuesday, Holt said he could see comparisons to the Cardinals’ excellent running back, David Johnson.

“Marshall did everything, and I see (David) the same way,” said Holt (pictured below with wide receivers John Brown, left, and Marquis Bundy). “He can do a little bit of everything.”

Last year, during a brief visit to the Cardinals’ facility, former Cardinals (and Cowboys) running back Emmitt Smith compared Johnson to Bills great Thurman Thomas in terms of their all-around games. And that was before Johnson had his marvelous second season.

Johnson earns the Faulk comparison from Holt.

“He’s smooth,” Holt said. “He’s bigger than Marshall. But he can run, run between the tackles, run on the outside and he can catch. Those are where the similarities are. Again, size is different. I haven’t been in the meeting room with (Johnson) yet so I don’t know where his football IQ is. Marshall was extremely smart with the game.

“But there are some similarities in their games, particularly with catching the ball out of the backfield. (Johnson) is very smooth.”

Holt mentioned one other running back who he thought was as natural catching the ball as Faulk and Johnson — Bengals rookie Joe Mixon.

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The case for David Johnson’s 1,000-1,000

Posted by Darren Urban on December 14, 2016 – 10:34 am

The Cardinals will still play to win the games. Bruce Arians said it, and I’m sure Herm Edwards approves. But there are other things to look at besides results when the postseason isn’t really in play. One of those things is David Johnson’s quest to become the third player to gain 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving in a single season.

Johnson already has 1,000 yards rushing, at 1,085 to be exact. It is in the receiving column where he faces the uphill climb — he has 745 yards (on 69 catches), and gaining 255 yards through the air in the last three games isn’t a given. But it’s not impossible, either. There are reasons to think the Cardinals will push for it, at least in an attempt to get it done.

— I’ve had more than a few fans ask about powering down Johnson’s touches over the last three games, to protect him for the future. I don’t see that happening, not if you are playing to win games. He’s their best player — you’ll need him.
— With all the wide receiver woes right now — Michael Floyd’s issues on and off the field, Smokey Brown’s leg problems, even Larry Fitzgerald battling aches and pains — Johnson is clearly one of the team’s better pass catchers. Forget his own stats, he’s necessary in the aerial game.
— Because he is your best player and your best runner, teams gear up to stop him in the run. The pass game is the easiest way to circumvent that and still have him make a difference.
— Oh, and Johnson wants to reach that double mark too.

I’m not saying the Cardinals will target him 15 times a game, the rest of the game plan and/or defense be damned, just to reach that mark. But that’s the best part about this whole thing — the Cards don’t have to do a whole lot out of the ordinary. In the first six games of the season, Johnson had no more than four catches in a game. Since then — seven games — Johnson has never had fewer than five catches in a game, and at least seven five times. This still could come organically, and that’d be the best way for it to happen and for Johnson to join Marshall Faulk and Roger Craig.


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Niners aftermath/Panthers prologue

Posted by Darren Urban on December 28, 2014 – 8:32 pm

It was a weird day Sunday.

It was weird because of what was swirling around the 49ers as Jim Harbaugh coached what everyone knew was going to be his last game as a 49ers boss but pretended nothing was going on yet (including the very awkward hug between Harbaugh and 49ers owner Jed York on the field pre-game). It was weird because Ryan Lindley threw three interceptions, but it was hard not to feel the Cardinals may indeed be able to tread water at quarterback if Drew Stanton can’t come back this week. It was weird because the game for a while felt like it would mean a heck of a lot, with the Seahawks trailing and the Packers losing Aaron Rodgers – and then the Seahawks pulled away and the Packers pulled away and the outcome meant just nothing.

Maybe that’s why the Cardinals falling short didn’t feel like that so much, that Lindley’s last interception was simply moot. It didn’t cost the Cardinals anything.

I’m not going to sit here and say Lindley was the second coming of Rodgers, or even Carson Palmer Sunday. The first half, he was pretty good, with 260 yards and his two touchdowns and yes, a very bad interception, but he had the Cardinals ahead. By all accounts – including his own and by my own eyes – it’s the best he’s played in the NFL. I thought he looked better than he had even in the practices I have seen. The second half, he and the offense dropped off, but the Cards stuck with the run more too.  You can’t turn the ball over. That’s obvious. But there’s a way to make this work, at least against a 7-8-1 Carolina team.

The Cardinals’ playoff game will kick off at 2:35 p.m. Arizona time Saturday and will be televised on ESPN.

Speaking of turnovers, the Cardinals suddenly aren’t getting any. The Cardinals forced two turnovers against St. Louis on that Thursday night win – although one came on the last play of the game – and haven’t forced one since. Those turnovers were a big reason the Cards were winning earlier in the season. They have to create something in Carolina.

— Arians said there was no new news on Stanton. We’ll see if he can go. My gut says the Cards will have to go with Lindley.

— Cam Newton doesn’t quite run as much as he used to (and he’s still dealing those back issues after his car accident.) But the way that both Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick have sliced up the Cardinals running the football the past two games, the Cards have to be concerned.

— Safety Tyrann Mathieu, on the trouble stopping the run: “We have to play with more of an attitude. We have to play with that chip on our shoulder. We come into the game at 11-4 and in the playoffs and we’re not necessarily playing with a chip on our shoulder. Hopefully we can gain that edge again.”

— Tight end Darren Fells is still raw. But it looks like the Cardinals might have found something there. With him and Troy Niklas, it’s a nice young tight end foundation going forward.

— In case you missed it, click here to see the Cardinals’ opponents for 2015. The schedule comes out in April.

— I don’t think Bruce Arians will forget about Kerwynn Williams again. Williams wasn’t great but he’s a guy who needs to have carries for the Cardinals.

— The Cardinals did have a pretty good day the last time they played a postseason game in Carolina.

— That was the Michael Floyd the Cardinals have to have.

— This was the first season in franchise history four different quarterbacks have thrown a touchdown pass in one season. Not that you’d be striving for such a thing, but …

— Random quote, this one from Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk, said during the NFL Network’s pregame show Sunday morning: “I would not pass up the opportunity to play for Bruce Arians. Bruce finds ways to win games without his best players. … The fact that he’s found a way to win 11 games after going 10-6 and missing the playoffs. You win 11 games this year and you’re missing probably four or five of your best players on your team. How do you do that? That means there is great coaching going on.”

— Short week. The players get their day off Monday, and all the practice days are moved up one with the Saturday game. The Stanton watch is on. Otherwise, more Lindley.


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