Tennessee Titans: Exploring Chris Johnson's Role in the Passing Game

Chad Minton@@chad_mintonCorrespondent IAugust 8, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 18:  Chris Johnson #28 of the Tennessee Titans runs with the ball during the NFL game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 18, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Not a whole lot of positives have been said about Chris Johnson since his eye-opening 2,000-yard campaign just two seasons ago.

One part of Johnson's game that the Titans should utilize even more this season is his ability to catch the ball in open space.

The Titans are currently employing a pass-first offense this offseason, and that means nothing but good things for Johnson in the backfield.

It's really simple logic. If the defense has to worry more about the passing game, then they'll probably back off on loading guys up in the box.

There's no denying Johnson's elusiveness, and it will always be his best strength as an offensive player.

Johnson has been bulking up this offseason to make him more effective between the tackles. Last season Johnson struggled often in this department.

Although Johnson does need to continue to show improvement in that area of his game, you still have to make sure you're using a player's strengths to help your team win each week.

The Denver Broncos did that with Tim Tebow, and I think you know how that worked out for a team that was considered dead in the water early in the season.

Good coaches find a way to utilize each player's strengths, and Johnson's main strength is getting defenders on an island so he can use his elusiveness.

Johnson has shown that he is an exceptionally good receiver out of the backfield as he has 194 receptions in just four seasons.

His collegiate career at East Carolina also showed plenty of consistency as a receiving running back.

Now obviously you have to draw a fine line when using your premiere back as a receiver when his primary goal is to rush the football.

Johnson still needs to drastically improve his output on first down to give the offense more favorable opportunities on second and third down.

Matt Hasselbeck has expressed his positive feelings about getting Johnson more involved in the passing game (via The Washington Post) and Hasselbeck knows a thing or two about how to command an effective NFL offense.

Johnson certainly needs a bounce-back year if the Titans want to get Mike Munchak his first taste of the NFL postseason as a head coach.

If Johnson is making solid contributions as an all-purpose running back, then the Titans have a great opportunity to give opposing defenses nightmares.

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