When The Tennessee Titans broke the bank in the off season for their starting running back Chris Johnson by giving him contract extension that will pay him $53.5 million over the next four seasons (30 million of it guaranteed), they certainly didn’t have this in mind.
Through seven weeks of the season, the Titans are dead last in the league in rushing at a measly, pathetic 64 yards a game. Of running backs with at least fifty touches, the once heralded CJ2K is dead last in running backs at 2.9 yards per carry. He has always been a back that will have mostly runs for 2 to 3 yards before breaking a long one, but this season his longest run is 25 yards. He has one lone hundred yard rushing game this season against Cleveland in which he barely got to 101. But Jonson does not see this failure as being his fault, and after coming off of a 10 carries for 18 yards on Sunday at home in which he was booed by the home crowd, he wants us all to know that.
When speaking to the Nashville Tennessean, Chris Johnson deflected the blame that many fans and experts are putting on his legs. When asked about the struggles in the running game, Johnson went on the defensive claiming that, “Basically, if you are watching the game and you really can’t tell what is going on with the run game then I would say you really don’t know football.” He went on to say “I wouldn’t say I am the issue. I am very confident I have been doing the things … I do.”
He never came out and said it directly, but if you read between the lines it is pretty clear that he is putting the blame on the offensive line. I can not say that I disagree with him because his backups, Javon Ringer and Jamie Harper, are averaging an ineffective 3.0 and 2.7 yards a carry in limited action. However, even when given the ball in space in the passing game, Johnson has not made explosive plays. At the beginning of the season, it was clear he would need a couple of games to get into playing shape after his holdout, but after six games, it is almost time to start worrying, especially when the signs started to show late last season.
Production aside, when a franchise rewards a player with a monster contract, the player becomes a vocal leader in the clubhouse and that is where Johnson has been the most disappointing. In the offseason he took to twitter to bash football fans that wanted him to report to camp. Now it seems he is slowly alienating himself and feels like he is unfairly being criticized. All of these problems can be solved this Sunday if he can bust out against a Colts’ team that just allowed 62 points and is ranked 31st in the league against the rush and has allowed 150 yards a game on the ground this season.