David Johnson would 'love' to run more from shotgun

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The prevailing notion among the football cognoscenti states that an NFL running game will struggle if used primarily from the shotgun.

Running backs don't get the same downhill momentum when a handoff comes out of shotgun, which can curtail some of the production. The increase in shotgun usage has coincided with a league that prefers the pass to the run.

The predominant belief is that if shotgun helps the quarterback more, then overall it's beneficial. Some running backs, however, struggle from that formation. It's one reason a future Hall of Famer like Adrian Peterson found it hard to land a home last season. All Day runs much better when the QB is under center than when he's given the ball in shotgun.

Kliff Kingsbury's offense in college relied on shotgun to an extreme. The new Arizona Cardinals coach won't let on if that ratio will remain in the NFL, but it's clear he loves the shotgun like a kid loves cake.

How does former Pro Bowl running back David Johnson feel about most of his runs coming from shotgun?

"I actually love that," Johnson said, via the team's official website. "I did that in college. That's all we did in college is the gun, a read-option-type thing. I think it really opens up more space for me and makes me able to read the defense a little bit more."

It's comforting to hear Johnson likes the idea of running more shotgun.

Last season, the Cardinals ran 54 percent of their plays from shotgun, per Warren Sharp, tied for seventh fewest. They ran out of the formation on 18 percent of plays, 23rd in the NFL. During Johnson's best season in 2016, the Cards played even less out of shotgun (47 percent) and ran out of that formation a league-low 10 percent.

Johnson's own success rate fell from 39.2 percent on under center runs to 33.9 percent from shotgun last season. DJ's success rate in shotgun last season was worse than the league average by 13.1 percent, per Sharp's metrics.

The stats don't scream to be a positive for Johnson in 2019, but we'll hold judgment until we see Kingsbury's full plan in his first year in Arizona. Perhaps, as Johnson notes, defenses focusing on the pass could open up holes for him to exploit.

At the very least, the Cards' most dynamic weapon is on board with what the new coach brings to the table, and that's a positive.

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