Game recognize game? Indeed. Both backs eclipsed 1,200 yards rushing last season -- and they were also huge weapons in the passing game: Johnson led all running backs with 80 receptions, while Bell finished second with 75. Simply put, these are two of the most well-rounded backs in recent memory. In fact, Johnson paced the NFL in all-purpose yards (2,118) in 2016 and Bell ranked No. 3 (1,888). (The NFL's leading rusher, rookie Ezekiel Elliott, held down the two spot with 1,987 all-purpose yards.)
Bell and Johnson are Swiss Army Knives in the backfield, guys whose spectacular versatility keeps defensive coordinators up at night. And this brings one question to mind:
Who is the best all-around running back in the NFL today?
But the best all-around back is Pittsburgh's
Le'Veon Bell --
when he's healthy. He can run in between or outside the tackles, make defenders miss in the open field and is a huge weapon out of the backfield.
Yet, the kinds of routes Johnson runs -- and the agility he shows running those routes -- makes him such a formidable presence in the
Cardinals' offense. Bruce Arians gets the most out of him -- much like Bell benefits from the presence of
Ben Roethlisberger and the
Steelers' passing game, and Elliott from a top-flight offensive line.
I think Johnson is the best receiver of the three, but again, I consider a back's ability to run the football the most important characteristic of all.
As they say, sometimes a player's best ability is his availability.