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Tag:Jamie Harper
Posted on: October 24, 2011 9:07 am
 

What's wrong with Chris Johnson? Not him, he says

C. Johnson has struggled this year so far (US Presswire).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.

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Posted on: August 21, 2011 3:52 pm
Edited on: August 21, 2011 4:30 pm
 

Titans say new deal with Chris Johnson not close

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Titans running back Chris Johnson hinted during the lockout that he wanted a new contract. And he came right out and said it once owners and players agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement. Johnson has yet to show up to training camp, and despite Tennessee general manager Mike Reinfeldt saying the team is ready to make him the NFL's "highest-paid running back," it sounds like Johnson's looking for something more than that.

Good news: Johnson returned to Nashville Saturday. Bad news: it wasn't to meet with the team -- he was in town for personal business.

In fact, the Titans say the two sides aren't even close to a new deal.

“We’ve discussed parameters," Reinfeldt told the Tennessean's Jim Wyatt before the team played the Rams Saturday. "If we can’t agree on the parameters, there’s no sense making offers. If your parameters are different … and if you are talking a different language then you are wasting your time. We’ve talked to his agent and will continue to talk to his agent.”

Also not helping things: Saturday night's announcement that the Cardinals gave Larry Fitzgerald, one of the league's best wide receivers, a shiny, new eight-year, $120 million contract that included $50 million in guarantees.

This prompted CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman to write, "You don't give that kind of guaranteed money to a wide receiver. Quarterbacks, yes. … A wide receiver? That's idiotic. Maybe a left tackle. Emphasis on maybe. Maybe a pass rusher. Emphasis on maybe. But not a wideout.

Chris Johnson's Holdout

"Fitzgerald is a future Hall of Famer, a hard worker, and someone who comes from good family," Freeman continued. "He's a leader. He deserves a huge payday but you don't give a wideout quarterback money in a salary cap league. Fitzgerald alone now occupies some 12 percent of Arizona's salary cap."

We've expressed similar views about Johnson. Namely that, even though he's one of the league's two best running backs, Tennessee shouldn't break the bank to keep him.

Johnson and his agent likely have a different view, and it could mean that signing him will be even more difficult for the Titans. Shortly after Fitzgerald's new contract was announced Johnson and Fitzgerald went back and forth on Twitter:
  • Johnson: "Congrats to @LarryFitzgerald god is good."
  • Fitzgerald: "thanks CJ you up next my guy." 
  • Johnson: "Yes sir." 
In Johnson's absence, backup running backs Jamie Harper and Stafon Johnson played well. Harper rushed for 83 yards on 11 carries and scored a touchdown; Johnson added 68 yards on 11 carries. Each players ripped off long runs from scrimmage (a 46-yarder for Harper, a 29-yarder for Johnson), and the Titans finished with 198 rushing yards in their 17-16 loss to the Rams.

We don't expect one performance by two backups as reason enough to prompt Johnson to the negotiating table. But it's further evidence that running backs, in general, play the most fungible position on the field.

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Posted on: June 17, 2011 11:45 pm
 

Titans OC believes Chris Johnson won't slow down

C. Johnsonhas had 674 carries in the past two seasons (Getty).Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Titans RB Chris Johnson is unique among the rest of the league’s backs. During the past two years, nobody has carried as many times as he has -- 674 combined attempts -- and though his stature (5-foot-11, 190 pounds) and his biggest assets (speed and quickness) don’t seem to mesh with a guy who carries the ball an average of 20.1 times per game, Johnson has continued his strong play despite so much work.

Yes, last year was a disappointment by his standards. He wanted at least 2,000 yards for the second-straight season, but he finished with 1,364. But you still have to consider him one of the best backs in the league.

Another byproduct of so many carries is the inevitable question about how long this RB can take this many hits and remain healthy and effective. Johnson is only three years into his career, and already -- after he finished fourth in the league in rushing, mind you -- people are already discussing this very issue.

New Tennessee offensive coordinator Chris Palmer doesn’t believe it, though.

He told the Tennessean that he’ll keep an eye on Johnson’s workload, but he also points to the fact that Johnson broke 41 tackles last year (second-best in the NFL) that Johnson is fine with the extra carries.

“Again, it’s something we’ll have to look at,” Palmer told the paper. “The good thing is (Titans head coach) Mike Munchak has been with him for a while and knows him pretty good. We’ve talked about different personnel groups, and some of those personnel groups would have Chris out.

“How much we’re going to use those during the season, only time will tell. But Chris Johnson is one of our playmakers and we’d like to get as much out of him as we could.”

To help alleviate some of Johnson’s workload, remember that the Titans drafted 233-pound power back Jamie Harper in the fourth round in April. Palmer has said he absolutely will use Harper.

So, while we might not see Johnson have a legit chance at topping 2,000 yards again, the Titans are planning to use him in mostly the same way as before. Yet, it makes sense for Palmer and Munchak to ease off Johnson a little bit, because, at some point, those carries (and the hits that come with him) are going to add up and make Johnson less effective.

That’s just the way it goes for a running back in the NFL.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com