We knew the 2019 Arizona Cardinals were going to have their fair share of problems.
Coming into the year, Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury were questions. The offensive line has been a question for years. The WR depth was a question. So was the defensive line, inside linebacker and cornerback positions.
David Johnson and Patrick Peterson were supposed to be answers not problems for this young, developing team.
Problems need solutions and the Arizona Cardinals need to find solutions for both of these players, otherwise it’s going to create more problems for them down the road.
Here’s the good news: I’ve got the solutions.
For David Johnson, there are two things I would like to see happen. And before we get there, everyone should be rooting for Johnson. He’s hard working, a good teammate and deeply involved in the community but there’s no denying his performance on the field is hurting this team. He’s had productive games this season but so have Chase Edmonds and Kenyan Drake. This offense is going to put RB’s in a position to succeed and the issue with Johnson is the team can’t DEPEND on his production the way they should when you consider their investment in him. If David Johnson was having an identical season but was still on his third round rookie contract, we aren’t talking about it being a problem. When he’s one of the highest paid RB’s in football with the single biggest cap hit at the position this year, it is a problem
So here’s the two pronged solution: First, Kliff Kingsbury has to do his best BA impression. DJ needs to be coached hard and then hugged harder. I want to see Kingsbury challenge Johnson publicly. Remind him of his importance to the team’s success. Appeal to his pride and sense of team. Demote him publicly. Give him fewer snaps. Make him earn his way back into the RB mix, barring more injuries. Unless Johnson is battling an injury privately, the team needs at a minimum to see him run with more urgency and authority. Like playing defense in basketball, that’s all about effort. Maybe this has already started to happen considering his public benching in the fourth quarter but I'd like to see Kliff continue to publicly challenge DJ.
Second, and I’m the furthest thing from an expert on anything related to physique and weight lifting, but Johnson looks stiff. He’s an aircraft carrier trying to take the corner. He’s too bulky. My very amateur opinion is more time in a yoga pose and less time with free weights. Focus on pliability, quickness and agility and less on muscle mass and bulk. It can’t hurt at this point.
For Patrick Peterson, the solution is probably one Cardinals fans don’t want to hear. When my 3 year old complains about being hungry after not eating any dinner, the solution we tell her is to eat more dinner next time. She doesn’t like to hear that. A similar situation is in play with Patrick Peterson.
The solution for Peterson is to ride it out and hope for the best. At this point, Peterson’s trade value makes it unlikely a good enough deal would come along to justify trading him. Its also unlikely his performance would be good enough down the stretch to warrant a contract extension.
The Cardinals should pencil P2 in as a 2020 starter at CB, hope to ride out a motivated, financially hungry Patrick Peterson in 2020 and then expect Byron Murphy to take over in 2021. Peterson’s antics from last years trade deadline to this year’s PED suspension to his performance over the last three games has raised enough questions about his long term viability in the desert, the team should be making plans now for life post-P2.
If the Cardinals can solve both of their problems with Peterson and Johnson, they can move on to what is really the biggest question moving forward:
Is Steve Keim the right guy to rebuild this defense and offensive line?
But that’s a story for another day.