Chris Johnson Should Worry About Helping Titans Win, Not All-Time Rushing Record
Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson has been in the news of late because of his record 40-yard dash time at the NFL combine. As players come and go, and fail to break his remarkable 4.24 time, we will continue to mention his name each time this event comes to pass.
When speaking to CJ2K about his combine time and everything else NFL-related, the speedy RB is setting his sights on another all-time mark—Eric Dickerson's 2,105 rushing yards.
After a 6-10 record last season and three-straight years in which Johnson has failed to eclipse the 2,000 yard mark that earned him his nickname (CJ2K in 2009), it's time for the franchise player to stop touting his own goals and figure out a way to help his team compete in the AFC South.
Johnson's latest comments to Andrew Siciliano of NFL Network (via CBS Sports) paint the picture of a RB who is on top of the NFL landscape right now, not a man who has averaged just 4.3 yards per carry since his 2,000 yard season in 2009.
It also doesn't sound like a back who hasn't been to the playoffs since his rookie season, or one that's interested in reversing that disturbing trend.
To be fair, Johnson hasn't had much help.
With a young quarterback that is still being groomed (Jake Locker) and wide receivers that either can't stay on the field (Kenny Britt) or are still learning the NFL curve (Kendall Wright) and an offensive line that was ravaged by injuries and poor play for most of 2012.
To make matters worse, the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts both went 2-0 against the Titans this year, and have had better drafts, better free agent hauls and a resurgence that puts both teams in place to be successful year-in and year-out.
One way to improve the team is the offensive line, and that's something Johnson noted to "Around the League" on Tuesday during a visit with the on-air personalities (via NFL.com):
"What a lot of people don't understand, I was playing with an offensive line that only had one starter...I had four offensive linemen hurt. I felt like I did good with the situation I was dealt."
"I had to cross over some hurdles, but I never sat there and made excuses. I just dealt with whatever was given to me and just played with it."
That being said, Johnson still doesn't sound like a guy with the best interests of the team at heart. When you combine those statements with what he said about a potential change to the Tennessee offense (via the CBS Sports piece), it's becoming more and more clear that CJ is looking out for No. 1 right now—not the best interests of the team.
"Throughout all the years I've been in the league, when we get in the red-zone area they always put another guy in there," Johnson said via NFL.com. "I think people are making more than what it is. ... But if it comes down to a two-back system, I don't agree with that."
"I know I deserve them touches...I'm a team player, and if they feel like they can help us win by putting a bigger guy in there I'm not going to pout about it. But if it's a situation where it's a two-back system, I don't like it because you really can't get into a groove. That's something I wouldn't be happy with."
Add it all up, and you've got a player aiming at the highest goal a running back can achieve in one season—Dickerson's record.
Again, in the spirit of fairness, Johnson is a playmaker. If he rushes for more than 2,000 yards, there's a good chance the Titans are going to have at least eight or nine wins. In the games that CJ2K rushed for at least 90 yards (seven), the Titans were 4-3.
In games he did not, they were 2-7—a low mark to say the least.
Johnson is clearly the best playmaker on the team, and that fact needs to both propel him to strive for greatness in pursuit of wins and personal records.
I love the competitiveness Johnson protrudes. He's a tough runner in a small runner's body, and he hasn't yet shown signs of wear and tear after completing five seasons in the NFL.
However, it's been a frustrating time for the Titans and Johnson personally since the league figured out he was a true threat. The nine and 10-man boxes Tennessee sees on a game-to-game basis makes things incredibly difficult on the running game, whether the team is using a two-back system, or not.
Who will rush for the most yards in 2013?
Instead of worrying about records and how many touches he will get in 2013, Tennessee needs Johnson to be a leader. He's making $10 million next season, one of the most dynamic players at his position and the Titans have a free agency period and the draft to make the necessary upgrades to stop defenses from keying on him every play.
It's time for CJ2K to be more about CJTT (Tennessee Titans), a move that might just put Tennessee back on the winning track.
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