Chris Johnson's Holdout Story, Part 1

Photo: Chris Johnson, courtesy Draft Day Suit

At this point, we all know what’s going on. Titans star runningback Chris Johnson remains on a holdout from training camp and continues to wait on a big contract. 98% of people, and I’m not talking Titans fans, but I am making the stat up off the top of my head, would approve of a HUGE, new deal for Johnson. Has he earned it? Easy, that’s affirmative.

Will he continue to play up to those standards? Not behind this offensive line.

In the first part of this, we’ll look at his past and in the second part, we will speculate towards the future.

Johnson, drafted 24th overall in the 2008 NFL Draft, signed a contract that seemed appropriate for his draft position. Rotoworld fills us in:

So, let’s take baby steps. Has Johnson performed up to par with his rookie contract?

In Johnson’s rookie season (2008), he rushed for 1,228 yards in 15 games, starting 14 of those. Johnson received 251 carries, which gives him a 4.9 average yards per attempt to pair with 9 rushing touchdowns.On the receiving front, he had 43 catches for 260 yards (6.0 avg) with 1 touchdown. Johnson only fumbled once the entire season. Do keep in mind that Johnson shared carries with then backup LenDale White.

So, did he earn his pay in 2008? Yes, he did. Johnson surpassed most expectations and earned the label of “next best thing” at the runningback position, along with Houston’s Steve Slaton.

Now, on to 2009 where Johnson rushed for many NFL records, including breaking Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk’s yards from scrimmage record with an astounding 2,509 total yards. Yes, that really happened. Pay close attention, Johnson totaled 2,006 yards rushing, AND 14 rushing touchdowns on his way to an amazing 5.6 yards per carry. Soak it in, there’s more. Johnson added 50 receptions for 503 yards, 2 touchdowns and lost 3/3 fumbles. He started all 16 games and carried the ball 358 times. It was….nearly imaginary.

So, did he earn his pay? I put the question there as a joke. He earned everyone on the pay rolls’ pay in 2009.

So, 2010, did he keep it up? No, but the main reason, I feel, he failed to keep the play was due to Eugene Amano. Heard of him? Amona started at center in 2010 in place of long-time Pro Bowler Kevin Mawae. Mawae’s contract ended and the team wanted to get younger, or at least have someone without gray hair start at center, it didn’t help. Amano finished 34th out of all 34 graded center’s in Pro Football Focus’ ranking for 2010. See what I mean? Mawae finished 30th in 2009 but the real difference lies in that he made the rest of the line better. Amano didn’t appear to, by any means and the line suffered because of it, horribly suffered, if you didn’t notice.

Johnson finished with 316 carries, which is still a great deal, and 1,364 yards in 2010. As you can see, there was a noticeable drop-off in play, but as we just noticed with Amano, it wasn’t all on Johnson’s shoulders where the blame rested, but let’s not kid ourselves, the guy still had a great year. Scoriing 11 touchdowns on the ground, he still gave teams a fit. Standing at 5’11″ and only 191 lbs, Johnson used both his lateral agility and world-class stop-start speed to manufacture goal-line performance. The stereotypical goal-line back–265 lb Brandon Jacobs, NY Giants  (9 td’s in 2010)–would have trouble keeping up, and did have trouble keeping up, everyone has the last few years. With 44 receptions for 245 yards, Johnson’s average yards per reception nearly dropped to half. Another stat to note–Johnson lost 2 of 3 fumbles in 2010.

So, at the end of pt. 1, what is there to really note? He earned his pay and it’s not hard to argue that he outplayed the contract. The front office for the Titans must be wondering how much he has left as this position wears out much quicker than any other in the NFL due to the constant wear and tear these guys go through, but at age 25, it’s safe to say he has a few more years left. So far, I vote to keep him. It helps the development of your brand new rookie QB, Jake Locker.

Fun Fact: Chris Johnson made the Pro Bowl all 3 years he has played in the NFL.

I can hear Deion Sanders saying: “P P Pay the MAN!!!!!”

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