Tennessee Titans vs. Denver Broncos: Chris Johnson's Numbers Should Improve

Chad MintonCorrespondent ISeptember 22, 2011

Chris Johnson is averaging just 2.3 yards per carry after two games in 2011.
Chris Johnson is averaging just 2.3 yards per carry after two games in 2011.Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

It hasn't been a smooth start to Chris Johnson's fourth NFL season after a highly-publicized holdout that ended just before the regular season began.

Johnson has just 77 yards rushing in two games so far this season, which is good for a pedestrian 2.3 average.

You have to wonder if Johnson's slow start is due to him skipping out on valuable reps in training camp to get his big contract. Almost like a toddler kicking and screaming until he gets his way.

Fans haven't forgotten the drama-filled holdout from Johnson. He even received some boos during the game after one of his five runs that ended with no gain or a loss.

Lucky for the Titans, they actually have a pretty deep team on offense this season.

In the Titans' win over the Ravens this past Sunday, Javon Ringer came in and provided a spark that Johnson was unable to provide.

Rookie Jamie Harper also made a few big plays in the disappointing season-opening loss to the lowly Jaguars. Unfortunately, Harper will probably only see the field if someone ahead of him goes down to injury.

If Johnson even plays remotely like the running back that he claims he is, then the Titans are sitting pretty at 2-0 right now.

However, things should begin to clear up for Johnson, starting this week against the Broncos.


The Titans' passing game has suddenly become a formidable one with Matt Hasselbeck under center, and Kenny Britt is on the verge of having the breakout year of his career.

Defenses can no longer afford to stack the box against the Titans anymore, and if they do then Hasselbeck will most likely pick them apart with Britt, Nate Washington and Jared Cook.

Johnson has actually alluded to this, basically saying that the Titans will beat teams in other ways if they try to put everyone in the box to stop him.

He's right in that regard, and Johnson's numbers will eventually get better. Whether or not he deserved the amount he got and if he'll be able to live up to that contract is a conversation for another day.

The Broncos don't have nearly as stout of a defense as the Titans' first two opponents (Jacksonville and Baltimore), and the secondary isn't all that great either. It should allow the Titans to run a balanced offensive attack, thus leading to more space for Johnson to run.

We can't jump on Johnson too hard after the first two weeks of the season, even though it is concerning. Baltimore shuts nearly every running back down, and rust is always expected in a player's first performance of the season.

If head coach Mike Munchak doesn't seem to be the least bit worried, then we probably shouldn't be either.


This week will be a good measuring stick for Johnson as he'll look to eclipse 100 yards for the first time since Week 15 of last season.

If Johnson returns to form, then the Titans should have no problem handling the Broncos on both sides of the ball.

However, if Johnson struggles yet again, then things could get a little chippy. The Titans can't look past the Broncos, because they could very well surprise the Titans like they did last season.

Kyle Orton is still a very capable quarterback that can occasionally have a stat line that resembles a Tom Brady or Philip Rivers.

That's why it's crucial that Johnson finally finds his groove this week, and I expect he will.

Chris Johnson's Projected Stat Line: 22 carries, 85 yards, One touchdown