John Sciarretta – Contributor, Creator of Video “Chris Johnson Rises”
The Tennessee Titans primary offseason focus was the offensive line. They acquired the top free-agent offensive guard in Andy Levitre. They drafted Alabama guard Chance Warmack with the 10th overall pick in the 2013 draft. They added Delanie Walker, who is considered as an elite blocking tight end. This strategy was made to protect who they hope will be their franchise quarterback for years to come: Jake Locker.
Another primary focus was getting back to a run-first offense. They acquired Shonn Greene to complement Chris Johnson, wear out opposing defenses and pick up the tough third-down yardage.
Last season, Johnson put up 1,243 rushing yards and six touchdowns on 276 carries (4.5 yards per carry). He added 32 receptions for 232 yards.
Those are good numbers considering he was playing with a depleted offensive line that rotated 15 different linemen throughout the season with only one original starter from the time the season began. Throw in bad quarterback play and a midseason switch at offensive coordinator? You have a mess. But Johnson still managed to put up solid numbers including three touchdown runs of 80-plus yards.
Johnson is primed for his biggest season since 2009. He feels comfortable and trusts his offensive line more than ever. Chris has said he won’t be hesitating this season. It hasn’t looked liked thus far in the preseason.
Yes—Greene will get a lot of carries. Don’t expect it to be 50/50 like the 2008 version of Smash and Dash that featured LenDale White. When the defense gets tired, Greene will keep the chains moving. Opposing defenses will get tired. I expect plenty of long runs from Johnson this season and I believe his carry total will increase if the offense stays on the field and is winning the game.
Through three preseason games, the run game looks spectacular. Johnson looks better than ever. He has a tough defensive schedule ahead of him. If he’s CJ2K again, then he’ll have no problems, especially if Locker completes passes off the play-action.
Rushing yards: 1,410 (5.1 avg)
Rushing touchdowns: 8
Receiving yards: 370
Receiving Touchdowns: 2
All statistics were sourced from ESPN.COM