2011 NFL Predictions: The Titans Are Legitimate Contenders Without Chris Johnson

Travis SmithAnalyst IIAugust 30, 2011

NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 09:  Chris Johnson #28 of the Tennessee Titans runs with the ball against the Indianapolis Colts during the NFL game at LP Field on December 9, 2010 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The theme over the offseason for the Tennessee Titans was change. Gone is former first round draft pick Vince Young. Gone is former head coach Jeff Fisher, and now it looks like gone is running back Chris Johnson.

With the potential lengthy holdout of CJ2K, there seems to be a sense of panic in Tennessee, but I believe that the Titans can still be a competitive team without Chris Johnson.

According to the folks at www.nfl.com, “The Titans placed Johnson on the reserve/did not report list Monday, an administrative move that doesn't impact contract talks with the three-time Pro Bowl running back, who has missed all of training camp during a contract holdout and still
hasn't reported.”

So with the increasing possibility of Johnson missing some playing time, the Titans need to come up with a game plan around the talent they already have. Having said that I believe Tennessee can stay competitive without Johnson.

First year head coach Mike Munchak has two very young and unproven running backs on the roster in Javon Ringer and Jamie Harper. The issue with the backfield is keeping both men healthy while gaining them some on-field playing time.

I feel that Tennessee needs to go ahead and potentially sign a veteran in the absence of Johnson. The best potential veteran free agent for Tennessee is Tiki Barber because of his knowledge at the position and he also has something to prove as he is attempting to make a comeback after a five year hiatus from the NFL.

Coach Munchek can still succeed without CJ2K if he properly prepares his team for the season ahead. If the Titans struggle than expect him to be on the hot seat
Coach Munchek can still succeed without CJ2K if he properly prepares his team for the season ahead. If the Titans struggle than expect him to be on the hot seatEd Szczepanski/Getty Images

The Titans are a small ball team, which in turn means that they like to run the ball early in the game in order to set up the short pass scheme. I feel that Tennessee can succeed with their use of Ringer, Harper and potentially Barber in a three running back system in the same sort of fashion that the Saints have used in the past to great success.

The running back trio can be enough support for the Titans to win games even in the ugliest fashion known to football fans.

Matt Hasselbeck was signed over the offseason in order to have that veteran presence in the huddle. I feel that Hasselbeck can be a true leader for the Titans in Chris Johnson’s absence.

The Seahawks stayed competitive for over the past decade with Hasselbeck as the starting quarterback, because he is smart with the football and can truly be a team leader for a very young Titans squad. The Titans will mostly likely pass more without Johnson in the backfield, but they could have more success with that strategy because they have a wonderful quarterback in Matt Hasselbeck.

The Titans have a legitimate chance of making the playoffs this season if they get off to a quick start this season and prove to their fan base that one man does not define the team. If Tennessee does indeed have a great season without CJ2K, then we may have seen the last of Chris Johnson as a Titan.

If Tennessee struggles without Johnson, then expect Chris to get a huge payday. Either way,
the 2011 season will be a very interesting and compelling season for the Titans.