The Tennessee Titans brought running back Shonn Greene in to help complement Chris Johnson and get the tough yards needed to keep the chains moving.
The Titans reached a three-year, $10 million deal with Greene in the offseason. Greene has proved he is a capable No. 2 running back as he rushed for two consecutive 1,000 yard seasons with the New York Jets as their starting running back in 2011 and 2012. In 2012, Greene led the NFL in third-down conversions after going 11-for-11 from 3rd-and-3 and under. He scored eight touchdowns.
Greene was great when placed in a two-back system as he succeeded with Thomas Jones and LaDainian Tomlinson. He looked great all offseason and great in his first four rushing attempts before going down with a knee injury against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1.
The injury kept him out of the game. It didn’t seem to be that serious as Mike Munchak thought he’d return against the Houston Texans in Week 2. It was more serious than he thought as he had a knee scope and minor knee surgery that will keep him sidelined for a few weeks.
None of us know how long a few weeks will mean but don’t expect to see him playing in any of the upcoming games in the three-game home stand. Some have not put too much thought into losing Greene for an extended period of time but they should. This offense is struggling and fingers are being pointed in every direction.
This is a run-first team. The Titans and coordinators have made that clear with Jake Locker throwing 50 passes over the course of two games and Johnson having 50 carries of his own. The absence of Greene leaves Johnson and Jackie Battle in the Titans backfield. Sure Battle is a bruising running back but he’s no Greene.
Battle cannot provide what Greene can because Battle is just not a very good running back. Battle is more of a run full speed smash-you-in-the-face back while Greene can actually be elusive and make some great runs when he has the blocking. He can also catch the ball out of the backfield.
Smash and Dash 2.0 is on hold and it’s sad to not see Johnson and Greene get a full season to work together. Who knows how the outcome of the Houston game would have been if Greene was in to get some carries. Battle finished the game with six carries for 13 yards with one of his carries going for nine yards. This is why he’s a third-string running back.
Not having Greene for several games could be a huge loss for an offense that’s struggling to pass the football. The Titans need all the help they can get on the offense especially with three winnable games at home. Johnson has 50 carries this season and is averaging 3.3 yards per carry. He needs help and Battle is not the answer. Battle is a guy who should receive 3-5 carries a game to secure a win since he’s a player who doesn’t fumble the ball and can run the clock out.
If the Titans lose some of these games at home in the next three weeks, the question will be what would the outcome have been if Greene played? The Titans need to keep the chains moving and Greene is the best at doing it.
This is definitely something to be concerned about. Injuries happen but in a season where the expectations are very high they cannot afford to lose a player that was brought in for a specific duty that was not provided last season.