The Seattle Seahawks may have lost to the Green Bay Packers, but at least according to Pete Carroll, the team came away from the game without injury, which is a huge sigh of relief given how many defensive players we saw temporarily down on the field.
It’s a vastly different story for the Arizona Cardinals, the popular pick to challenge Seattle for the NFC West crown. A 17-9 3rd quarter lead over the Detroit Lions turned into a 35-17 blowout by the 4:03 mark of the 4th quarter, before Arizona scored a garbage time TD to end the game with a 35-23 loss. Of far greater importance than the defeat is the health of their standout running back, David Johnson.
Midway through the 3rd, Johnson made a diving catch inside the Lions 5-yard line, but he stayed down and was in pain. He played through his injury, but his next (and final) touch was a critical fumble deep in his own territory, and the Lions capitalized with a touchdown to close the gap to 17-15.
As it turns out, Johnson suffered a dislocated wrist, and that is a major deal. While he’s going to get a second opinion on his injury, if it yields the same result, then he’s going to have surgery and likely be placed on Injured Reserve. Arizona’s rookie running back T.J. Logan had the same injury in the team’s preseason opener against Dallas, and he was given a recovery time of 8-to-12 weeks. In other words, Seattle at Arizona on Thursday night is 99.9% not likely to include David Johnson.
If you ranked the players Arizona could not afford to lose for an extended period of time, David Johnson would be at the top, if not the very top of the list. He’s definitely the most valuable player on Arizona’s offense, and for my money he’s already one of the three best RBs in the NFL. After a stellar 2016, in which he gained at least 100 yards from scrimmage in his first fifteen games, Johnson was one of the favorites to win Offensive Player of the Year. His absence is about as devastating as it gets for the Cardinals offense, which was largely ineffective even when Johnson was healthy. Johnson had exited the game for good with just 23 yards on 11 carries, but 6 catches for 68 yards.
Now it’s up to Kerwynn Williams, Andre Ellington, and newly signed D.J. Foster to shoulder the load, and just on David’s value as a receiver, this feels like an impossible task. Arizona’s offense is almost certain to be substantially worse without him, and that’s without mentioning the fact that the team will lose starting left tackle D.J. Humphries for a few games due to a knee sprain, or Carson Palmer looking every bit like a 37-year-old QB with a deep injury history and an arm that looks to be failing him.