Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports
On Oct. 6, the Tennessee Titans host the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs. The Titans will be without their captain and starting quarterback Jake Locker.
The Titans’ offseason was spent on making this team a run-first offense by investing in Chance Warmack and Andy Levitre to help provide running lanes for star running back Chris Johnson. Johnson was praising the team after drafting Chance Warmack by tweeting “THANK GOD” after Tennessee drafted the guard from the University of Alabama 10th overall in the 2013 NFL draft.
Since his 2009 record-breaking campaign, Johnson has been on a decline. He received tons of criticism for not repeating or coming close to what people expected out of him. After Johnson’s numbers declined, he called out the offensive line for his problems. Maybe he was correct. The Titans rotated 15 different linemen last season with only one remaining starter finishing out the season. Johnson still managed to rush for 1,243 yards and six touchdowns.
The excuses were thrown under the bus in the offseason as everyone had high hopes for Johnson. They still do. Entering Week 4, Johnson was the AFC leading rusher. The New York Jets held Johnson to 21 yards on 15 carries. That’s less than two yards per tote.
Johnson now has yet to have that big explosive game fans have been waiting for. He has not scored a touchdown or had a run for over 23 yards. Johnson has one rush for over 20 yards this season. His rushing statistics are not stellar. Johnson has 84 carries for 277 yards with an average of 3.3 yards per carry.
Johnson has never had a season in which he rushed for under four yards per carry. The time has come for him to earn the big contract the Titans gave him after his 2009 campaign which was a four-year, $53.5-million dollar extension with $30 million guaranteed.
There is no doubt Johnson can still be an elite running back in this league. This Sunday, playing an undefeated Chiefs team with backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick under center, Johnson must have a huge game against a team that ranks 24th in the league in rushing yards allowed (117.5)
Johnson must find the correct holes, break one or two of those big-time paycheck runs, and give the Titans one or more touchdowns. Whether it be off a rush or pass, this is the time for Johnson to show up and provide the Titans with what they expected from him when he signed the contract. He must be a game-changer and get back to being one of the best playmakers in the league.
There is no doubt that the Chiefs game plan is to stop Johnson and have Fitzpatrick beat them with his arm. It’s time for Johnson to win a football game. This would be the best time to do it.