Monday, September 17, 2012

CJ-OK?

Chris Johnson after loss to Chargers
In his first three seasons with the Titans, Chris Johnson broke out into one of the most lethal offensive weapons in the NFL with 5,606 total yards from scrimmage. However, since those early years of greatness, his numbers have drastically declined and fantasy owners nation wide have done nothing but hate on Chris Johnson. Is he deserving of that criticism?? Ya, to an extent, but lets look more into it...

Last season, CJ ran for 1,047 yards while catching 57 passes for 418 yards. For most teams that is a pretty good stat line, but not for Johnson and the expectations that he puts out there for us. People can blame the lockout, the new coaching scheme, or that he held out to get paid, but to me it primarily centers around the offensive line. 



Kevin Mawae
There was one constant during CJ's breakout seasons: Kevin Mawae. The 2011-12 season was the first without the future Hall of Fame center (also known as one of the dirtiest players while in the league). He was the leader on offense and a mentor to the younger lineman. Since then, the Titans have started Leroy Harris, Eugene Amano, Kevin Matthews, and Fernando Velasco at the position...none of these guys seem to be the answer.

This season the troubles have continued and I think more and more people are now realizing what I have said all along, the offensive line has got to get a push. This past week against San Diego, I focused in on Velasco and saw the defensive tackle pancake him at least twice. That's not including the number of times Harris also got blown up. With the addition to All Pro Guard Steve Hutchinson, many people, including myself, thought he could be a mentor on the offensive front and get the running game going again. Boy was I wrong. Not only has the run game gotten worse, but now Locker is running for his trying to get a pass off.

There were some intriguing stats that I came across today...
Chris Johnson is averaging 1.1 yards per carry.
Chris Johnson is averaging 1.2 yards per carry after contact.
Chris Johnson has 0 runs that has resulted in a first down.

What that is basically saying is that Chris Johnson is getting hit before the line of scrimmage almost every time he touches the ball. Still want to put all the blame on CJ?

Other changes that may have resulted in problems with the running game...
Chris Palmer (offensive coordinator) rarely uses a fullback. I know that this is now a pass happy league and you want three receivers and a tight end in the game, but how has former Titans RBs been successfull? When Eddie George was at his best, he had All Pro Lorenzo Neal as his fullback (the same guy to lead block for Tomlinson in San Diego). Chris Johnson had military veteran Ahmad Hall blocking during his 2,006 yard season. So why all the major changes?? 

Palmer has yet so run plays that benefit to CJ's style of play. When we ran counters and draws (with a fullback in the mix), Johnson was successful. Now the Titans just run up the middle without a fullback and with a weak offensive line, it just doesn't make sense. 

Bruce Matthews & Mike Munchak
Things have got to change, whether its signing some top veteran linemen, fullback, or changing the offensive play calling. Because with a Hall of Fame head coach (Mike Munchak) and offensive line coach (Bruce Matthews) both being former offensive linemen, the rushing attack should not be this bad.

But I'm glad Chris Johnson stepped up and called his teammates out with this statement:

"The run game ain't working," Johnson said Sunday following the game. "We just aren't executing the plays. I don't know why we're not. People need to step up and do their job. They don't need to let people beat them. It don't matter who the opposing defense is, you can't let your guy beat you. You just can't give up plays. You have to make plays like they make plays. I can't speak for the defense. I can only speak for the offense."

And that's all I will speak on too, the defensive problems involve a totally different rant...

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