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How have running backs under Mike McCoy fared?

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David Johnson is one of the top backs in the NFL, will McCoy’s offense suite him?

NFL: Tennessee Titans at San Diego Chargers Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

With the hiring of Mike McCoy as the new offensive coordinator for the Arizona Cardinals, many questions will be asked.

How will his scheme work?

Which quarterbacks fit best with McCoy?

How will Ray Brown fit in the new offensive hierarchy and will he work well with McCoy?

Who plays wide receiver?

Yet, there is one player we have no question about, and that is running back David Johnson.

Johnson is going to have a chance to re-establish himself as the dominant running back force in the league. The question will be, how does McCoy use his running backs?

Let’s take a look through his years as an offensive coordinator and head coach.

2009

Knowshon Moreno: 247 carries 947 yards 7 touchdowns, 41 targets 28 catches 213 yards 2 touchdowns
Correll Buckhalter: 120 carries 642 yards 1 touchdown, 38 targets 31 catches 240 yards

The top two running backs for the Broncos in 2009 were a rookie first round pick and a 31 year old veteran journeyman back.

367 carries for 1,589 yards and eight touchdowns and added 59 catches for 453 yards and two touchdowns.

2010

Moreno: 182 carries 779 yards 5 touchdowns, 48 targets 37 catches 372 yards 3 touchdowns
Buckhalter: 59 carries 147 yards 2 touchdowns, 39 targets 28 catches 240 yards 2 touchdowns

There was a drop in production from the top two backs. One was due to Moreno dealing with some injuries, but the second was the arrival of quarterback Tim Tebow. Tebow garnered 43 carries and 227 yards and six touchdowns. In other words, he took a bulk of the redzone and goal line carries.

241 carries 926 yards seven touchdowns, 87 targets 65 catches 612 yards and five touchdowns. The Broncos running backs were more effective in the passing game this season, but dropped off by over 120 carries and over 600 yards rushing.

2011

Willis McGahee: 249 yards 1199 yards 4 touchdowns, 20 targets 12 catches 51 yards 1 touchdown

The ‘11 Broncos were the Tim Tebow special, Tebow had 122 carries and 660 yards and six touchdowns. Moreno was limited to seven games this season, while Lance Ball had the second most carries from the running back position with 96 carries and 402 yards and one touchdown.

I don’t know what you glean from this season at all.

2012

McGahee: 167 carries 731 yards 4 touchdowns, 33 targets 26 catches 221 yards
Moreno: 138 carries 525 yards 4 touchdowns, 26 targets 21 catches 167 yards

The 2012 Broncos had a third running back who put up over 300 yards, in rookie Ronnie Hillman who had 85 carries for 330 yards and one touchdown.

Top two running backs though: 305 carries 1,256 yards eight touchdowns, 59 targets 47 catches 388 yards.

2013

Ryan Mathews: 285 carries 1255 yards 6 touchdowns, 33 targets 26 catches 189 yards 1 touchdown
Danny Woodhead: 106 carries 429 yards 2 touchdowns, 88 targets 76 catches 605 yards 6 touchdowns

These numbers look closer to what we would like to see from David Johnson. Of course, DJ would be Mathews in carries and Woodhead in targets.

Combined: 391 carries 1,684 yards eight touchdowns, 121 targets 102 catches 794 yards seven touchdowns.

2014

Branden Oliver: 160 carries 582 yards 3 touchdowns, 45 targets 36 catches 271 yards 1 touchdown
Donald Brown: 85 carries 223 yards, 41 targets 29 catches 211 yards

2014 can be thrown out, much like 2011 was, just for the opposite reason. Mathews and Woodhead were lost for the season and the Chargers stunk at running the football, finishing 30th rushing yards, 31st in yards per carry and 29th in touchdowns. It was a disaster, but nothing unexpected with who was carrying the football.

2015

Melvin Gordon: 184 carries 641 yards, 37 targets 33 catches 192 yards
Woodhead: 98 carries 336 yards and 3 touchdowns, 106 targets 80 catches 755 yards 6 touchdowns

A disastrous rookie season for Gordon, the Chargers top four running backs in carries and yards all finished sub 4 yards per carry on the season and the Chargers as a team somehow only scored four rushing touchdowns on the season. FOUR!

Combined: 282 carries 977 yards three touchdowns, 143 targets 113 catches 942 yards six touchdowns

2016

Gordon: 254 carries 997 yards 10 touchdowns, 57 targets 41 catches 419 yards 2 touchdowns
Kenneth Farrow: 60 carries 192 yards, 16 targets 13 catches 70 yards

This is probably the closest to what to expect with David Johnson in 2018 from one player.

Combined: 314 carries 1,182 yards 10 touchdowns, 73 targets 54 catches 489 yards two touchdowns.

However, this isn’t a great season by any means.

If we look at the five seasons combined where a running back wasn’t injured a quarterback was not used as the second running back, here are some numbers for the top two backs on average for McCoy:

332 carries 1,205 yards 3.6 ypc 7 touchdowns
91 targets 77 catches 613 yards 7.9 yards per catch 3 touchdowns

When you look at those numbers, you can see a season like that from David Johnson, it just usually comes from the top two running backs in McCoy’s offenses.