Why Chris Johnson Is Not to Blame for His Slow Start
Nobody is going to feel sorry for Chris Johnson. They feel that he hasn't held up to his end of the bargain after holding out for a large contract.
Plus, any fantasy owner who has had the "pleasure" of his presence on their roster the last two years has taken to voodoo and Twitter to exact their revenge.
The public also doesn't like that Johnson isn't letting the blame settle on him alone. He has publicly stated that his teammates aren't handling their business, which is the problem with the Tennessee Titans' running game (h/t Kareem Copeland, NFL.com).
You may not want to hear it, but he isn't completely wrong for the following reasons.
The Offensive Line Needs to Read Their Collective Job Description
According to popular logic, the main responsibility of an offensive lineman is to block the defender opposite him. That information should be conveyed to the big boys up front.
ESPN's Stats and Info department tweeted out an interesting nugget of knowledge that legitimizes Johnson's gripes:
Chris Johnson is the only player to average negative yards before contact per rush this season (min. 10 rushes). #OffensiveLineIssues— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 18, 2012
Basically, before Johnson can even break the line of scrimmage, he's being forced to engage a defender. It's impossible to hit the hole when you can't build any momentum.
Although, the responsibility for this disturbing statistic doesn't rest solely on the line.
The Titans Need More Imaginative Play-Calling
Another tactic for opening running lanes is to confuse the defense with your play-calling. That duty falls squarely on offensive coordinator Chris Palmer.
The assumption that if you pay a back like Tennessee did, then they should be able to ride him is only part of the story. When things aren't working, the play-caller needs to figure out ways to spread out the defense.
So far, he's failed.
Jake Locker Doesn't Garner Any Respect
Locker has yet to give defenses a reason not to completely concentrate on Johnson. His 6.5 yards-per-attempt average invites eight men into the box, and they're not going to back off until Locker forces them to do so.
Kenny Britt should start to see more action as the weeks wear on, but that won't help quell the awkwardness in the locker room any time soon.
Say what you will about Johnson's supposed lack of effort or alleged erosion of skill. Just don't call him a liar. He needs some help.
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