Tennessee Titans: Expectations for Chris Johnson in Week 1
This season is certainly a make or break year for Johnson, who has to perform much better than he did in 2011.
His retribution starts on Sunday against the New England Patriots—a team that he played well against in their last meeting.
This article will outline four things to expect from Johnson against the Patriots.
Johnson Will Break off One Long Touchdown Run
In Chris Johnson's 2,006-yard season, he had 49 rushes of over 10 yards. That accounted for 1,231 of his yards and eight of his 14 touchdowns.
This was where Johnson struggled the most last season. He had only 26 rushes of over 10 yards, nearly half of what he had in 2009. Even worse than that, those carries only accounted for 511 yards and one touchdown.
This season, Johnson will hopefully be better in that department. He showed some ability to hit the hole decisively in the preseason, especially when he had two 14-yard rushing touchdowns against Tampa Bay.
It is likely that Johnson will be able to break one long run against a New England team that isn't very strong against the rush. Since it is the first game of the season, Johnson will hopefully be trying to prove himself.
Johnson Will Have a Low Yards-Per-Carry Average
Possibly one of the most noticeable things about Chris Johnson's decline over the past two seasons is the drop in his yards-per-carry average.
In his rookie season, Johnson averaged 4.9 YPC. He followed that up with an amazing 5.6 yards per carry in his outstanding sophomore year.
Since then, however, his average has dropped drastically. Two seasons ago, he only rushed for 4.3 yards per attempt. Last season was even worse at only 4.0 YPC.
It's likely that this trend will continue. Johnson's YPC in the preseason was a dismal 2.9, and while he will improve that for the regular season, there is still a good chance that he won't have a strong showing in the first game of the year.
His one long run will help the average, but it won't make up for a number of minimal gains.
Johnson Will Get a Lot of Carries
This is both an expectation and something that needs to happen in the Titans' Week 1 game.
Johnson should get a lot of carries against the Patriots for a few reasons.
First, head coach Mike Munchak must know that he needs to give Chris Johnson a lot of carries. Johnson is the type of player that needs the ball a lot to get into a rhythm.
Johnson does not do well when he is only given the ball a few times. For instance, he went for 24 yards on nine carries in Week 1 last year.
On his first 10 attempts of each game, Johnson averaged only 3.6 yards per carry last season. That number went up to 4.0 yards on his 11th-20th attempts and skyrocketed to 7.0 on any carries after his 20th.
This will be Jake Locker's first game as the long-term starter (not just an injury replacement).
While the Patriots are weak against the pass, Locker will probably not be able to take advantage of it adequately. As a result, Johnson should get a lot of carries.
Johnson Will Only Have One or Two Catches
Over the last four seasons, Johnson has proven to be a solid receiving target. He has caught between 43-57 balls a season over that time, averaging 48.5 receptions per year.
This preseason, however, Johnson has looked abysmal in the passing game. In three games, he caught zero balls, including two dropped passes in the opener against the Seahawks.
While it is only preseason, worry should still be there for Titans fans. Chris Johnson should be an important part of the passing game, especially with a young quarterback. He could be the recipient of a lot of dump-off passes and screen plays.
Johnson will hopefully be able to make himself more useful in the passing game, but it doesn't seem likely that he will do so in the first game of the year. He and Locker simply haven't worked together long enough, and he hasn't shown a strong enough desire yet this year.