In today’s NFL, you need two types of runningbacks. The first is the runner. You need that guy that you feel reliably moves the chains. Think Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice, Maurice Jones-Drew, Steven Jackson, and , yes, the Titans’ own Chris Johnson. The second type of guy that you need is a guy that can pick up blitzes. This can be very, very important to your team, depending on your style of offense. The top few guys that come to mind off the top of my head are Joseph Addai (Colts) and Brandon Jackson (Packers and now Browns).
Of course it would be nice if one runningback did both, right? Too bad Chris Johnson doesn’t.
The problem with a guy that can’t pickup the defense’s blitzes is that he has to come off the field. He has to be replaced. If he isn’t replaced by someone who can run the ball well, then the defense knows to key in on the pass, they can shift their coverage and ignore the run. This is Chris Johnson’s weakness, this is also Adrian Peterson’s weakness. Why can’t they just learn it and be a great, all-around back like the Rams’ Steven Jackson? For the record, I still contend that Jackson is the best runningback in the league.
Pro Football Focus released an article in June that focused on Pass Blocking Efficiency amongst runningbacks. Johnson ranked 3rd-worst in the NFL, really. I’ll bet you didn’t realize that when you thought he should get paid $25 million guaranteed. I mean 3rd-worst isn’t worth the effort. The Packers had two runningbacks not named Ryan Grant that finished in the top-5 and the Titans star runningback finished 3rd-worst. So many things are wrong with this. Looking in division, Jacksonville’s Maurice Jones-Drew finished 6th and Indianapolis’ Joseph Addai finished 14th..
I started a series about Johnson ranking low, which I regrettably haven’t gotten around to finishing, and the first one (only one) focused on his absurdly low ranking in the receiving department for 2010. CLICK HERE
Couple the low ranking in receiving with the low ranking in pass blocking and I’m really wondering why they haven’t traded Johnson to a desperate team that is willing to overpay. At the very least, a runningback on third should be a half-decent wide receiver out of the backfield….at the least.
Surprise! Former Redskins runningback Clinton Portis ranks #1 since 2008 in pass blocking efficiency and it just so happens that he is a free agent and can be had for cheap. I’m thinking this would be the most under-rated free agent signing of the year and may add a year to Hasselbeck’s life, not football life, but life…..if Portis is signed.