Posted by Josh Katzowitz
You know what’s worse than the fact that Titans running back Chris Johnson had another subpar outing, rushing for just 18 yards on 10 carries in Tennessee’s 41-7 loss to the Texans? You know what’s worse than the fact he has accumulated just 268 yards with a 2.9 yards per carry average on the season after signing his mammoth four-year, $53.5 million ($30 million guaranteed) contract?
The fact that Johnson refuses to take accountability for any of it.
“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,’’ Johnson said, via the Tennessean. “I wouldn’t say I am the issue. I am very confident I have been doing the things … I do.”
Which means he seems to be trashing the people who are blocking for him, although his offensive line defended him and his fullback said Johnson wasn’t wrong (of course, what else are they going to say?).
“He is still the same player, he doesn’t change overnight,’’ fullback Ahmard Hall said. “He’s 24 years old -- you don’t just lose it like that. If he doesn’t have any space to run, he can’t do what he does. We have to give him space.
“He is going to catch the brunt of it because he held out and people are accustomed to him breaking the long run, but it is not him. He may miss a read every now and then, but we have to do a better job of blocking for him.”
CBSSports.com analyst Andy Benoit had a different idea a couple weeks ago when he wrote, “Johnson has not shown his usual initial quickness or burst out of the backfield. He’s had a tendency to stop his feet at the first sign of trouble, which is why he’s not creating his own space. These issues were apparent even in his 101-yard performance against the Browns.”
While the combination of backups Javon Ringer and Jamie Harper are also combining to average 2.9 yards per carry, giving credence to the opinion that the offensive line isn’t helping its running backs, Johnson is simply not performing at a high level. Though he had a worse year than expected last year (yes, 1,364 yards, I realize, is pretty awesome, but his 4.3 average was way down from 2009, when he rushed for 2,006 yards with a 5.6 average), he’s fallen off the cliff this season.
Could it have something to do with his training camp holdout? His average of 308.3 carries per season his first three years in the league? The fact he’s still not on the same page as his offense? The possibility, as some have said, that he’s shying away from contact? Nope, he says. It’s not on him.
“I feel like I’ve been back,’’ Johnson said. “I can’t say that that’s the problem with the running game.”
Maybe not, but at this point, it’s tough not to feel awfully disappointed in the way he’s performed this season.
For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.