Chris Johnson: Why He is the Best and What Makes Him so Good

Taylor WrightContributor IJanuary 12, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO - NOVEMBER 08:  Chris Johnson #28 of the Tennessee Titans celebrates after he scored a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on November 8, 2009 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Chris Johnson entered the NFL as a so called track runner who played football.  He was expected to be drafted in the second round but was picked up in the first.  Many would say it was because of his 4.24 forty yard dash time.  All the nay sayers claimed he couldn't carry the work load, said he was too small, thought he might be able to make it at wide receiver but he would never be more than a third down back. 

Johnson proved them all wrong, finishing as one of the top rookie running backs with 1,228 yards and 4.9 yards a carry.  He was part of a premier rushing attack and the only rookie to make the Pro Bowl last year.

This year Johnson took over as the starting running back for the Titans.  Week after week he proved that he was still a top back and averaging immense yards on every touch.  Even with all of his production the titans still were 0-6.  Then the bye came and everything changed.  Johnson had 11 straight 100 yard games and had a career high 228 yards against the Jaguars

Johnson finished the season with 2,006 rush yards and broke the all time record for yards from scrimmage with a staggering 2,509 yards.  If that wasn't enough he had three runs for 85 yards or more in a single season.  No one has ever done that in a career.  Johnson finished with more than 500 yards more than the leagues second best running back.

I've stated what he has accomplished, but what makes him so good?  First of all lets think of the typical backs you see in the NFL.  There are the small speed backs like Reggie Bush and Brian Westbrook.  There are the big power backs like Brandon Jacobs and Lendal White (before he lost all that weight).  And there are the physically gifted backs like Adrian Peterson, who is like a modern day Earl Campbell. 

Johnson is unique because there isn't a previous running back who is quite like him.  The closest player to him would be Barry Sanders but you can't really compare them.

Chris Johnson at first glance is just a very good speed back.  His 4.24 forty time was the fastest electronic time ever recorded.  If he gets the smallest amount of room then he is gone and no one is going to catch him.  If you combine that with his great vision and nose for finding holes than you, as a defender, have a problem trying to stop him.  Johnson also has shown that he can be effective between the tackles and not just sprint to the outside.

Another aspect of Johnson's game is his underrated ability to break tackles though he doesn't truck people like Peterson does.  Johnson has a knack for gracefully bouncing out of tackles due to his quick feet and lighter frame. Many times a defender would hit him only for Johnson to stumble away and then bolt for a touchdown. 

Due to Johnson's ability to make big plays, his blistering speed, solid blocking, receiving game, and his ball protection; I think he is the best running back in the NFL.