Does LenDale White Have a Reasonable Beef with Titans?

William BlakeCorrespondent INovember 24, 2008

After the loss to the New York Jets on Sunday, Tennessee Titans halfback LenDale White expressed his discontent with his playing time.

"I only played three plays, so I couldn't really tell you what happened. I have no idea. I wasn't paying attention, and I don't really care."

He wasn't criticizing teammate Chris Johnson or the rookie running back's performance running the football.

"I don't know if I had gotten the ball 30 times or not if we'd have won the game or not," he went on to say. "I would like to be involved more, or if I'm not involved, I'd like somebody to tell me what's going on. Coming into these games, you expect to get certain carries or certain things going on, or at least that's what they tell you. Then you get in these games and just randomly play three plays."

So, does White have a reasonable beef?

He got the ball once and lost a yard on that carry. However, White has a reputation of being more of a bruiser back than elusive, like the other halfback Johnson. As a team, the Titans ran the ball just 11 times, and the fact that White got one of those, nine percent, is astounding. Tony Richardson, the Jets' third string halfback, even got more carries than White.

White hasn't been involved in any trouble, or at least that we know of. This couldn't have affected his playing time.

White mentions the word random; that's the best term to use. Last week against Jacksonville, he had 14 carries. He turns around and gets one this week. His range of carries is 17 (he had 18 against Cincinnati, one against New York). 

Other No. 2 backs in two back systems haven't had quite the randomness of White. Chester Taylor, for example, is backing up a better halfback in Adrian Peterson than Johnson, but has been involved in more consistent carries situation. Erase the game against the Titans, where he was shut down, and Taylor has a stable number of carries and catches per game. 

White offers skills that Johnson hasn't quite developed, such as pounding in yardage. White runs over people and gets yardage that way. Early in the game, he could be used to wear out the defense, so Johnson can break out a long one to the outside.

White is also a touchdown machine. Or, well, he was.

In the first eight weeks of the season (including a bye week, so basically seven games) White had 10 rushing touchdowns. In the four games since, he has a grand total of one. Look at Kerry Collins' touchdowns; in the first seven games, he has three. In the four since, six. You can't tell me that you trust Justin Gage and Brandon Jones catching touchdowns over White pounding them in. 

The total offensive production has dropped when White doesn't score a touchdown. In games where White scores a touchdown, the Titans are winning by an average of 13.8 points.

In the four where White hasn't scored, the Titans are losing by an average of 1.3 points. Those four where White hasn't scored include an overtime escape from the Green Bay Packers, a blowout loss to the Jets, and a last-minute scoring drive against the Baltimore Ravens. These three games are also the only three all season in which White hasn't had double-digit carries.

White can be trusted to carry the ball more. Look at what he did last year. He had over 1,000 yards and stepped up with an injured Chris Brown and young Chris Henry and carried the load. This season, he has yet to fumble the ball on his 123 touches. 

Just because the pass worked against the Chicago Bears, Mike Heimerdinger has really relied on Collins. He is a good player, but not one that carries a team to victory.

Halfbacks like Johnson and White run teams to victories and the defense doesn't let opponents score. That was the formula in the beginning. Lately, however, passing has been added to the equation, and the formula just hasn't equaled out.