Tag:Chris Johnson
Posted on: September 22, 2011 11:04 am
  •  
 

Top Ten with a Twist: Biggest surprises

Wade Phillips has revitalized Houston's defense (US Presswire).

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Every year, it’s easy to predict how some teams and players will perform. For instance, this year it was easy to see that the Patriots were going to be awesome, the Colts were going to struggle without Peyton Manning, and some unheralded running back somewhere would surprise everyone with his fantastic performances (Houston’s Ben Tate for example, playing in place of last year’s unheralded/awesome running back Arian Foster).

But, as always, there have been some major surprises through the first two weeks that virtually nobody could see coming. Which is why we follow sports (and the NFL, in particular) in the first place. It’d be boring if we knew everything. But the fact we didn’t know just HOW terrible the Colts would be without Manning is what makes watching pro football a good time.

Therefore, this week, we introduce the Top 10 with a Twist list of the players and teams who have surprised us the most in the first two weeks of the season. No Tom Brady mentions in here. Instead, we give you Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jimmy Clausen's replacement.

10. Redskins: Remember how we all laughed at Rex Grossman when he proclaimed he thought that Washington would win the NFC East? Well, look at which squad is at the top of that division. That would be the Redskins at 2-0, ahead of the Eagles, Giants and Cowboys. It’s because Grossman has played well, running back Tim Hightower has had a resurgence and the Redskins rank No. 6 in points allowed (they were No. 21 last season). Hey, maybe, in addition to being a pretty decent quarterback, Grossman is quite the soothsayer. 

9. Dunta Robinson: I have to admit that I was shocked that the NFL fined the Falcons cornerback only $40,000 after his egregious case of head-hunting against Eagles receiver Jeremy Maclin last Sunday night. You’ll recall Robinson was fined $50,000 the first time he was caught head-hunting last season (that figure was reduced to $25,000), and though the NFL will say this case was different and less severe, I don’t buy it. We called on the NFL to suspend Robinson, and I didn’t think we’d see that. But I didn’t think we’d see less of a punishment than the first time he went helmet to helmet. Though we live in a time when Roger Goodell’s disciplinary decisions oftentimes don’t make sense, this was a shocker.

8. Bills: It’s only been a few years since the Bills started a season 2-0, but could you tell me the last time Buffalo started the season 2-0 and then finished with a winning record? You’d have to go all the way back to 1996, so obviously, the Bills aren’t going to start celebrating anything quite yet. But the way quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick continues to play (which, in itself, is a shocker) and the way running back Fred Jackson continues to pile up yards and the way coach Chan Gailey continues to turn around this team, it’s well … a little surprising. And it’s gotten them into first place in the AFC East (well, they’re tied with the Jets and the Patriots, but the Bills alphabetically are at the top of the division, so there’s that).

Johnson7. Kenny Britt: Yes, we knew Kenny Britt had talent, but we didn’t know he’d explode like this after his rather interesting offseason. So far, he’s recorded 14 catches for 271 yards and three touchdowns, and considering, in his best season before this one, he totaled 42 receptions and 775 yards, this is looking like a breakout year for him. Now if he only can stop getting arrested in the offseason …

6. Chris Johnson: You might find this selection strange, considering I placed Johnson in last week’s list -- the top-10 candidates for comeback player of the year. But after a Week 1 in which he was underused (only nine carries), Johnson ran for 53 yards on 24 chances last week. Which means that for a player whose stated goal is to break the 2,000-yard mark again hasn’t even cracked the 100-yard mark for the entire season. Considering he just signed a $54 million contract, his output has been rather disappointing. Maybe we shouldn’t have been so surprised. Johnson did, after all, hold out from training camp. But Johnson has been so good in his career, the fact he’s been so underwhelming is a little off-putting.

5. Chiefs: How do you go from winning the AFC West crown to being absolutely horrible the next year? How do you go from being pretty decent last year to being absolutely atrocious now? Some injuries (Tony Moeaki, Jamaal Charles and Eric Berry), some in-fighting between general manager Scott Pioli and coach Todd Haley (supposedly) and some brutal defense. Whatever the cause, Kansas City has been outscored 89-10 combined by the Bills and the Lions. Considering the Packers, the Steelers, the Chargers (twice), the Patriots, the Bears and the Jets still are on the schedule, the Chiefs might be in for a colonoscopy of a year.

4. Cam Newton: People were split about how Newton would affect the Panthers this season. Some thought he’d be terrible (I’m guilty, as charged). Some thought he would excite the masses in Charlotte with his on-field play and his off-field charisma. But nobody really knew for sure. Remember, about a month ago, we thought Jimmy Clausen might beat out Newton for the starting job (gosh, we were so naïve back then, eh?). But even those who thought he’d be a solid quarterback have to be taken aback by these numbers: a 62.7 completion percentage, 854 passing yards, three scores (we’ll ignore the four interceptions so far) and the record for most passing yards in a pro debut and most passing yards by a rookie. Sure, the Panthers are 0-2, but Newton has been pretty incredible.

3. Bill Belichick: Who would have guessed the Patriots coach would ever allow anybody to film his life for a documentary? The first episode of A Football Life: Bill Belichick on NFL Network was an interesting look at the best coach in the league and what he’s like in the meeting room, the locker room and, interestingly enough, on a boat in Nantucket. Belichick comes off like a cold-blooded SOB around the media, but in this documentary -- the second part of which will air Thursday, and supposedly, he really shows his emotions in that episode -- you can see the guy is actually human. And considering Belichick would be the 32nd NFL coach who I ever believed would agree to something like this, it’s a pleasant surprise.

2. Faking injuries: Did anybody think this stuff wasn’t happening before? Just because Deon Grant might have been faking an injury to slow down the Rams’ no-huddle, hurry-up offense  last Sunday (Grant, by the way, takes GREAT offense that you’d even think so), that’s not to say this tactic hasn’t been used for many, many years. It has; it’s usually just not so obvious. In fact, you can read this brief article from the NY Times in which the Bengals ask the league to look at players faking injuries. That article, by the way, is from 1989.

1. Wade Phillips: He wasn’t the most-respected head coach (I think the second season of Hard Knocks with the Cowboys gave the impression he was kind of a bumbling Texan who let people walk all over him), but as a defensive coordinator, he’s done a wonderful job in Houston. Since changing Gary Kubiak’s defense to a 3-4 and since the team signed Danieal Manning and Johnathan Joseph in the secondary, Phillips has helped Houston become the top defense in the league, allowing 10 points and 271 yards per game (both rank No. 1 in the NFL). Who would have thought that after last season when the Texans secondary was burned in just about every game they played? Phillips, though he might never get another head coaching job, is saving somebody else’s job right now. We knew Phillips would be good. We didn’t think he’d be this good, this soon.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: September 21, 2011 5:22 pm
Edited on: September 21, 2011 5:36 pm
 

Britt's hamstring tightens, stops practicing

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Titans WR Kenny Britt didn’t finish practice Wednesday when his quadriceps hamstring muscle tightened up, but coach Mike Munchak doesn’t seem concerned.

That’s according to the Tennessean’s Jim Wyatt, who tweets that Munchak said Britt is mostly dealing with quadriceps* soreness and that he should be good to practice Thursday.

*It should be noted that Britt told the Tennessean's John Glennon that it was his hamstring that flared up again. He stopped practicing, because he hadn't felt it tighten in a while.

Britt has been one of the best receivers in the game so far this season, recording 14 catches for 271 yards (second-best in the league) and three touchdowns (tied for third).

Also at Titans practice, running back Chris Johnson watched from the sideline because his ribs were sore. He expects to practice Thursday, though, when the soreness subsides. The good news for Johnson? He said he thinks he got on the same page as his offensive linemen in the second half of Sunday’s game. Considering he hasn’t broken 100 yards for the season (!), fantasy football owners have to be happy to hear that.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.

Posted on: September 18, 2011 6:52 pm
 

Titans fans boo Chris Johnson in win over Ravens

Posted by Will Brinson



On Sunday, Mike Munchak get his first career win as a head coach thanks to the Titans steamrolling the Ravens, 26-13.

The Titans moved to 1-1, but there's got to be some concern with the performance of Chris Johnson, who got a big new contract from the Titans after a prolonged holdout, and who rushed for a paltry 53 yards on 24 carries.

His performance was so lackluster that Tennessee fans started booing the franchise running back during the team's win.

"It didn't really bother me at all," Johnson said, per Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean.

Perhaps it doesn't bother Johnson now -- his team's 1-1 after the victory Sunday. But they should probably be 2-0. Even if they were undefeated, though, it's pretty hard for Johnson to justify his performance thus far in the season given that he refused to show up for training camp and even tried to refuse to "only" take enough money to make him the highest-paid running back in the NFL.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: September 17, 2011 8:24 pm
Edited on: September 17, 2011 8:25 pm
 

Chris Johnson: Ravens were 'trying to hurt me'

                                        (US PRESSWIRE)
Posted by Ryan Wilson

It was hard to tell in Week 1 when the Titans faced the Jaguars, but running back Chris Johnson is back with the team after holding out for a new deal during training camp and the preseason. He rushed for just 24 yards on nine carries in the loss, and things don't get any easier this week when the Ravens come to town.

Baltimore is fresh off whipping division rival Pittsburgh, 35-7, and after the game some Steelers players accused the Ravens of playing dirty. Not wanting to be left out, Johnson added his two cents, pointing out that the Ravens tried to hurt him, too, back during a January 2009 playoff game.

“I wouldn’t say they are a dirty team,” Johnson said Wednesday, according to the Tennessean's Jim Wyatt. “I guess it was a playoff game, and when the playoffs get here teams do what it takes to win. …

“They were trying to hurt me a little bit,” Johnson continued. “But the play I actually got hurt on, it was a fair play, somebody landed on my ankle the wrong way and I fell back the wrong way. It was a fair play when I got hurt.”

To recap: the Ravens were trying to hurt Johnson, but as it happened, he ended up tweaking his ankle on a perfectly legal play.

While Johnson doesn't consider Sunday's meeting a chance for payback, Titans defensive coordinator Jerry Gray spoke frankly on the matchup.

“They’re trying to cut you and do those things,” Gray said earlier this week, via the Tennessean. “You’ve got to make sure you’re doing something that’s hopefully going to hurt them, too. You can’t just be the recipient of everything. You’ve got to start doing something that’s going to get you back on track and hopefully they’ll tone that stuff down when you do something else.”

Meanwhile, Baltimore head coach Jim Harbaugh has no issue with the way his offensive line blocks.

"The blocking scheme we're talking about is one that almost every team in the National Football League runs," Harbaugh said. "We've been running it for years. Some teams do it better than others. The block is absolutely legal. It's 100 percent ethical and there is no danger whatsoever with the way the block is being executed.”


The Baltimore Ravens are coming off a dominate home victory against the Steelers, they will look to do the same on the road when they visit the Tennessee Titans this Sunday at 1 PM ET only on CBS.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: September 14, 2011 10:42 am
Edited on: September 14, 2011 10:43 am
 

Top Ten with a Twist: Comeback players

M. Stafford, if he stays healthy, could be a candidate for comeback player of the year (US Presswire).

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Some had disappointing seasons last year only to find themselves in a brand-new setting this year. Some had worn out their welcome in one city and were rewarded with a new home in a new part of the country. Some were injured, and some just flat-out stunk.

But this is a new season, and it’s never too early to make predictions about the 2011 comeback player of the year, especially since two-time winner Chad Pennington is out for the season and won’t be eligible for his third award until 2012.

You won’t find Albert Haynesworth on this list, because a man who duped one organization out of tens of millions dollars only to find himself holding a golden parachute to the league’s most respected franchise doesn’t need another reward if he potentially plays well (or, unlike in Washington, plays at all). But pretty much everybody else is eligible for a spot on our latest Top Ten with a Twist: Potential Comeback Players of the Year.

10. Kevin Kolb: I originally wasn’t going to put him on this list, because simply put, I’m not entirely sure he’s going to live up to his $63 million ($20 million guaranteed) contract in Arizona. But after his 18 of 27, 309-yard, two-touchdown performance in the Cardinals win against the Panthers (all while getting sucked into the “Cam Newton is awesome” maelstrom), it’s at least a possibility Kolb will play like Arizona believes he can. Kolb supporters point to an impressive two-game stretch he had in 2009 for why he’s worth all that money. I’m more interested in his 130 quarterback rating from Sunday and where he can go from there.

9. Chris Johnson: You might not know this, but last year, Johnson had a disastrous season. When you compare him to 2009, his performance declined by more than 600 yards and he scored three less rushing touchdowns. If that’s not the sign of a guy who has already become much less effective … wait, what’s that? Johnson still rushed for 1,364 yards and 11 touchdowns last season? Oh, never mind. But here’s the thing with Johnson. He keeps proclaiming that he’s going to rush for 2,000 yards, and while he did it in 2009, he fell woefully short last year. And yes, he won’t make it 2,000 in 2011 either. But he’ll also be better than last year, particularly since he now should be completely happy with the money he’s making.

8. Bob Sanders: We all know Bob Sanders can’t stay healthy. Not after missing 64 of 112 career games with the Colts. And because we’ve barely seen the guy (only nine times in the past three seasons) we always seem to lose sight of the fact that Sanders was once a premier safety threat  mentioned in the same breathe as Troy Polamalu and Ed Reed. One good sign for Sanders’ return to respectability: he didn’t have to spend this offseason rehabbing an old injury. But Sanders also is 30 now, where the aches and pains increase rather than diminish. In his first game with San Diego, he accumulated six tackles. But at least he didn’t leave the game with an injury. Which, with Sanders, is pretty good news.

7. Tim Hightower: You’ll recall that Hightower had a bit of a fumbling problem as the No. 2 running back behind Beanie Wells in Arizona -- he had eight lost fumbles combined in the past two seasons -- and though Hightower had good production in place of the injured Wells, the Cardinals decided they’d rather have Wells than Hightower. The Redskins, who were saying goodbye to Clinton Portis, went after him, and their interest was rewarded this week when Hightower looked solid, rushing 25 times for 72 yards and a score. Just as important, though, is his pass protection and his versatility (he’s a pretty good receiver as well). Just as long as he doesn’t fumble, he could be a really good addition for Washington.

6. Steve Smith (Eagles version): We still don’t know how healthy Smith is, but the fact that he was active for the first game -- much to the chagrin of the Giants, I imagine -- is awfully impressive, considering he was coming off microfracture surgery on his knee. He wasn’t targeted by Michael Vick, and he didn’t play all that much. But the fact he was out there at all was pretty ridiculous. Smith probably won’t be healthy enough to produce the stats that would give him a legit shot at the comeback player of the year, but he’s already gone to extraordinary lengths to return this soon, so why not?

Henne5. Steve Smith (Panthers version): Aside from all those Panthers fans who now have hope, receiver Steve Smith has to be one of the biggest Cam Newton fans around. For a guy who wanted out of Carolina as soon as possible (and as receiver, why would he want to try to field passes from Jimmy Clausen?), the infusion of Newton into this offense was the main reason Smith exploded for eight catches, 178 yards and two touchdowns. Considering he only accumulated 46 catches for 554 yards and two (!) scores in 2010, a little Newton in his life apparently has gone a long way.

4. Chad Henne: Despite Miami fans chanting that they wanted Kyle Orton (who now has to hear the chants of “We want Tebow” in Denver) in the preseason, the popular storyline out of south Florida is that Henne finally will turn himself into a legit starting quarterback. Henne was a major storyline in the offseason -- coach Tony Sparano said “we’ll see” about Henne’s chances of starting and receiver Brandon Marshall laid out in detail why Tyler Thigpen was a better player until Henne began to make believers out of his teammates, who voted him offensive captain. It’ll continue to be a storyline as long as Henne plays the way he did against the Patriots (30 of 49 for 416 yards, two touchdowns and a garbage-time interception) in one of the best performances of his pro career.

3. Rex Grossman: Based on the way he played against the Giants on Sunday, I thought about putting Grossman higher on the list. But I just don’t see him as a top-15 quarterback -- this season or any other. Maybe if he got to play against the Giants shell of a defense every week. But until that happens, I don’t see him taking home the hardware. That said, Grossman surprised many people this week -- including, I imagine, John Beck -- and didn’t look like the same quarterback who was Donovan McNabb’s two-minute offense replacement. At least, he played like a legitimate starting quarterback.

2. Bryant McKinnie: Surely, McKinnie would be the first comeback player of the year award winner to have weighed 400 pounds (allegedly) and gotten released from his old team for it (not to mention earning $75,000 for getting down to a trim 372). But McKinnie, as the new left tackle for the Ravens, helped set the tone last Sunday when, on the first play of the first Ravens drive, he dispatched Steelers linebackers James Farrior and James Harrison, allowing Baltimore running back Ray Rice a 36-yard gain. Baltimore ended up beating Pittsburgh by four touchdowns, and don’t think McKinnie wasn’t a big reason for that. If he keeps it up, perhaps McKinnie can make history as the first offensive line ever to win the award.

1. Matthew Stafford: The Lions quarterback scared the daylights out of just about everybody when he hobbled to the sideline with an apparent injury in Detroit’s season-opening win against the Buccaneers. For a guy who’s missed 19 games the past two years with various ailments, that was not a moment for the weak at the heart. But it was only cramps, and during Detroit’s victory, Stafford showed that he still has the talent to be a top-five quarterback. And considering most of the comeback players of the year happen to be quarterbacks, that doesn’t hurt his chances either.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: September 10, 2011 3:09 pm
Edited on: September 10, 2011 6:55 pm
 

Adrian Peterson agrees to $100 million deal

Peterson

Posted by Josh Katzowitz


You remember how last week the Titans blew your mind by signing running back Chris Johnson to a four-year deal worth $53.5 million ($30 million guaranteed)? Not surprisingly, the Vikings have gone a step further. Make, that about three steps further.

According to Pro Football Talk, Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson will sign a seven-year deal potentially worth as much as $100 million ($36 million guaranteed).

Which is insane money, especially for a running back. But it also means, just like what's happened in Pittsburgh with Troy Polamalu, Peterson now will likely stay in Minnesota for the rest of his career.

Said owner Zygi Wilf: "Adrian’s performances on the field have given fans so much excitement since he first joined us as a rookie. His talent and determination are remarkable and we are proud to have him be a part of the family for years to come. We are excited that in the past week we have been able to lock up Chad Greenway and Adrian for the long term. Both players have come up in our system and are the foundation to the future of the Vikings."

And coach Leslie Frazier: "Adrian is, to me, the best running back in pro football and we’re happy to have him as a part of the organization for the long term. He’s a fan favorite and a great teammate. Adrian’s a guy we lean on when he’s on the field with the ball in his hand and as a leader in the locker room.”

Added Ben Dogra, Peterson's agent, to the AP: "Adrian loves playing for the Minnesota Vikings. Deep inside he wanted to finish his career with the Minnesota Vikings ... He said, 'Look, I'm under contract. I'm just going to play. He never contemplated holding out. He understands the business side of things. He's very smart like that."

Usually, $100 million contracts were reserved for quarterbacks (unless your name is Albert Haynesworth) and definitely not running back. Not anymore apparently, and CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman makes a good point. Writes Freeman: "Is it a risk? Hell, yeah, it is. But it's also a sign. NFL teams, with higher salary cap numbers, awash in cash, and fully aware there will be labor peace for a decade, are willing to take more risks with guaranteed money."

Even for running backs who, almost unanimously, are less effective (or out of football completely) after the age of 30. Peterson, by the way, is 26, so presumably, he has almost another half-decade of productivity left.

And with his new deal, hopefully Peterson is now clear that he's not actually being paid slave wages.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: September 3, 2011 8:54 pm
 

Lance Briggs makes his case on Twitter

BriggsPosted by Josh Katzowitz

You already know that Bears linebacker Lance Briggs wants to be traded after he asked for a raise and the club refused to do so. This isn’t the first time Briggs has shown unhappiness with his financial rewards from Chicago, and though the Bears gave him a six-year, $36 million deal in 2008, he still thinks he’s in an unfair situation.

Perhaps that’s why Briggs has taken to his Twitter account on a rant that began Friday and impressively extended into Saturday.

Writes Briggs (over many tweets): “Most have no idea what's goin on. Owners can cut any player they want at any time and answer to know one. Players fight for themselves … And get ridiculed. You know as well as I do there are things that happen behind doors that all the fans/critics dnt know about@mrileynupe … I keep reading that players (I) should honor our contracts...when have owners honored contracts...they dnt. Chris Johnson should never have … Had to hold out to get a new deal. His play spoke for himself. Yet team wouldnt just pay the man. Tommie Harris was honoring his contract … When the bears cut him right before his bonus. Cut Brandon Manumaleuna when he was just honoring his contract. … Players do what you must. People get hurt and emotional. I understand...bottom line were all still bears and were trying to bring home a championship.”

And more today: “You must also remember we are just players that help a fans favorite team win a championship. Once were not a part of that"@ChrisHarrisNFL … Any more, we become a thing if the past for many fans. who really gives a crap about players if they aren't helping the team win "@ChrisHarr.”

Though I can sympathize with Briggs, I also agree with what CBSSports.com’s Ryan Wilson wrote: “In general, we support a player's right to ask for a raise because NFL contracts aren't guaranteed. But Briggs had no issue with the deal when he signed it three years ago. Just because other teams might overpay for their linebackers isn't reason enough for the Bears to do the same. Maybe that changes after the season, or perhaps Briggs will get his wish and be traded.”

Briggs has said he’ll continue to give 100 percent even if he’s not traded from Chicago. But he clearly is unhappy right now, and that probably won’t change unless he’s given more money or traded to another team which would.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: September 2, 2011 11:53 pm
 

Chris Johnson wants all of Tennessee's reps

JohnsonPosted by Josh Katzowitz

Now that Chris Johnson has been paid – and paid quite handsomely, mind you – he realizes he’s going to have to start earning his four-year, $53.5 million ($30 million in guarantees) contract rather quickly. Which is cool by him.

“I’d like to get all the reps, that’s just the type of player I am,’’ Johnson told the Tennessean. “At the end of the day, it is more than just about the big contract and getting all the money. That’s the business side.

“But the type of player I am when I am out there on the field, I want to be the best and when it is time to win I want the team to count on me. I want to put the team on my shoulders and steer us to victory.”

Johnson returned to Nashville on Friday to sign his new deal and meet with his coaches, and on Saturday, he plans to practice with his teammates. And as far as his goals this year? Aside from helping his team to the postseason, he, not surprisingly, is planning to rush for 2,000 yards (you might recall that he said the same thing last year but managed “only” 1,364 yards).

But until then, he can count his money as the richest running back in the game.

“It looks like it is a great deal for both sides,” said Joel Segal, Johnson’s agent. “I think Chris got a great deal, I think the Titans got a great deal.”

And soon enough, Adrian Peterson will get a great deal as well. And maybe -- just maybe -- Peyton Hillis as well.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com