Chris Johnson in the Record Books Already...The Question Is How Often

Bryan Hollister@too_old_4stupidAnalyst IDecember 31, 2009

NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 25: Chris Johnson #28 of the Tennessee Titans fights for yardage during the loss to the San Diego Chargers on December 25, 2009 at LP Field in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rex Brown/Getty Images)
Rex Brown/Getty Images

After a long and arduous season that saw his Tennessee Titans start 0-6, then reel off five straight victories, get to 7-7 and have a shot at making an unprecedented playoff appearance before ultimately falling to 7-8 with no chance at the postseason, Titans running back Chris Johnson seemingly has but one single focus going into Sunday's game against the Seattle Seahawks.

Eric Dickerson's NFL record 2,105 rushing yards in a season.

Some say he won't have a chance. 

To hear Seahawks coach Jim Mora Jr. tell it, the last thing that Seattle wants is to be the team that shows up in highlight reels for the next few decades every time Johnson's name comes up in conversation about who will break his record.

Others might point to Vince Young's less-than-stellar outings of late, and claim that without VY to provide a distraction, Seattle will be able to key on Johnson and shut him down.

Of course, that argument holds no water when you consider that for the last three weeks at least, teams have stacked eight to nine men in the box to slow Johnson down, and he still reeled off games of 100 or more yards.

Miami in particular made a point of playing the run, and he still got 104 yards on the ground.

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He also ran for 128 yards against New England in arguably the worst game the Titans have played in the history of the franchise; for the record, Collins was under center.

No distraction there, unless you count the guys who were utterly dumbfounded by Collins' ineptitude. On more than one occasion you could see guys looking at him like they had just seen a train wreck happen right before their eyes (which, in a manner of speaking, they did).

In fact, the only two teams who have had any success against Johnson this year have been Pittsburgh and Indianapolis. Neither is a surprise when you consider A) that the Steelers, even when they are losing offensively, still will typically punish the opposing team defensively; and B) the Colts were in the midst of an undefeated streak early in the season and were shutting everybody down.

Everyone else Johnson has turned into mincemeat with his combined threat as a runner and a receiver.

That's right, he is a receiving threat as well, folks. And that makes all the talk about him not getting his name in the books hogwash. Considering that he has already done some things that no one else in the history of the game has done, the question should be moot, but they still put the arguments out there. 

Remember, Johnson is the guy who gets to the second level, looks at the opponent for a second—probably hollers, "Meep!! Meep!!" a la the Road Runner—then leaves a contrail behind him on the way to the end zone. If you really watch him, it looks like he even does the little jump stutter step before he launches.

And he has done it often this year. In fact, I believe he may already have the record for most touchdowns in a season of 50 yards or more with seven, including three in one game.

Even better, he has nine touchdowns of 30 yards or more this season. I haven't been able to find a running back in the modern era who has more (although if it is out there, I am certain that someone will find it and let me know the error of my ways).

So, there's record No. 1. And possibly 1a.

Along with his league-leading 1,872 yards on the ground, he has amassed 483 yards through the air, putting him third amongst his peers at the running back position this year (assuming, of course, that there is anyone worthy of qualifying to be his peer).

So even if he isn't able to attain the 234 yards necessary to forever etch his name in the history books above Eric Dickerson (and please: against Seattle? Really? He can't gain 234 yards?), the mere 78 yards he needs to break the all-time combined yards from scrimmage record can be picked up in one carry.

Marshal Faulk is just a few short days away from being No. 2.

Which would be record No. 2. Or three, if you count 1a as the second record.

While 2,000 yards isn't a record per se, it sure puts him in elite company. Only five other men have been able to accomplish that particular feat in their career. Oranthal James Simpson set the standard way back in 1973 (before going on to set the standard for worst getaway ever in 1995), Dickerson set the current mark 11 years later, and only three other men have made a run at it (Adrian Peterson NOT being one of them, in case anyone was wondering). 

Joining that group gets his name mentioned for the foreseeable future when top running backs are talked about. Not a record, but yet another appearance in the annals of NFL history as a top performer.

And it isn't like his teammates aren't aware of this rendezvous with history. The big uglies up front know that if he gets to 2,000 or better, they will get to bask in some of the glory for helping him get there.

If he gets to 2,106, they might even be called out by name. So the motivation is there to get him as many yards as possible on Sunday.

If he gets to 2,106, then we have record No. 3 (or four...you know what I mean by now).

Depending on the number of carries he gets Sunday, he could also top the charts for average yards per carry by a running back in the modern era.

Record book appearance No. 5, thankyouverymuch.

Not bad for a second year guy from a small town high school who picked his college instead of being picked.

Just goes to show, you never know what a guy can do until you let him do it.


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