#CardsMailbag outside of Fitz, any front runner for 1000 yds receiving? Or is the WR depth (& DJ31) going to require too much distribution?
— Tanner Morris (@DavidTMorris51) June 9, 2017
TEMPE, Ariz. — Is there a front-runner among the receivers we know will be on the team in 2017 (aside from Larry Fitzgerald who will get 1,000 yards? Yes*.
Will they? Probably not.
That front-runner, as of now, is John Brown. He’s the only other Cardinals receiver who, in my opinion, could have a 1,000-yard season in coach Bruce Arians’ scheme. Any of the receivers in that room are capable of catching 1,000 yards or more in a season but it’s Brown who has the confidence along with the speed to actually do it.
But, if you noticed, I put an asterisk next to my answer above. Brown’s health will largely dictate whether he gets 1,000 yards. Draining the cyst on his back was a major step forward for Brown’s health and we still don’t know how it’ll affect him being diagnosed as a carrier of the sickle cell trait. If Brown can stay healthy, he’ll have a shot at 1,000 yards.
However, there’ll be one player standing in his way and his name isn’t Larry Fitzgerald.
David Johnson will once again be a central piece to Arizona’s passing game. Arians still wants to get him 30 touches a game. And as Arians pointed out to me when I asked him about that last week, all 30 touches don’t necessarily have to come as runs. Last season, Johnson nearly had 1,000 receiving yards but that was also due in part to Brown’s production slowing down because of his injuries and Michael Floyd’s yearlong case of the drops. Johnson ended up being a primary target in the passing game by default because of those two things.
This year, if Fitzgerald continues to exceed 1,000 yards like he has the past two seasons, and if Brown stays healthy enough where’s capable of turning in another 1,000-yard season, Johnson’s targets may decrease.
Then there’s this scenario: Maybe it’s Brown’s targets that will decrease. Maybe Brown becomes the third option in the passing game behind Fitzgerald and Johnson.
Let’s be real here: Every defense the Cardinals play next season will be locked in on Johnson like a fighter pilot on a mission. Sure, he’s talented enough where all that attention shouldn’t affect his production, but it also may give Brown the opportunity to get those 1,000 yards.