Tennessee Titans Need to Return to Run-First Option


Dec 30, 2012; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson (28) celebrates in the end zone after scoring a touchdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the first half at LP Field. The Titans beat the Jaguars 38-20. Mandatory credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

The last time the Tennessee Titans made the playoffs(2008), they boasted quite possibly the best two-back system in the league. Chris Johnson and Lendale White rushed for a combined 2001 yards with the two splitting carries fairly evenly that season. Lendale White rushed 200 times for 773 yards, and Chris Johnson 251 times for 1,228 yards. Perhaps just as important was the TD tally with White contributing 15 touchdowns and Johnson nine. What the Titans were able to do then is precisely what they need to do now as a football team; run the ball with purpose, be stout up front against the run, and establish a physical presence on both sides of the ball week in and week out.

In a pass happy league, no one is suggesting that the Titans become a conservative team on offense, or return to the days of Fisher-ball where running backs and defenses had no gas left in the tank towards the end of a game. However, judging by some of the team’s free agent acquisitions and the likelihood of them drafting an offensive lineman in the first round of the draft, it appears the Titans will be putting more of an emphasis on running the football. It makes sense with an athletic quarterback in Jake Locker, who struggled at various stages last season in the passing game, and with the addition of running back Shonn Greene, who figures to play a role similar to that of Lendale White during his time with the Titans.

Running the football will allow the Titans to play to their strengths with a newly improved and beefed up offensive line, but it will also allow them to control the clock and keep a mediocre defensive unit off the field against many of the high octane passing offenses in the league. While Chris Johnson may not be on board with the signing of Shonn Greene, and would want as many carries to himself as possible, or perhaps is preoccupied with personal stats and rushing for 2,000+ yards in an effort to break Eric Dickerson’s record, he’d be better served remembering the days when Lendale White served as a worthy complement and the Tennessee Titans were a far better team then, than anything they’ve put forth in recent times.

With Shonn Greene as the pounder, Chris Johnson will have more “home run” opportunities against weary defenses. He’s a player who doesn’t need 25-30 carries to get 100 yards, however, he should be touching the ball that many times when you combine rushing attempts as well as catches. Bringing Greene in will allow CJ to be at his versatile best, and the Titans could afford to get a little exotic in the backfield with Jake Locker, Johnson, and Greene out there together.