Chris Johnson’s Slow Start A Cause For Concern?


Sep 22, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson (28) rushes against the San Diego Chargers during the first half at LP Field. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

It is no secret that Chris Johnson is not playing very well so far this year. The former Pro Bowler still does not have a rushing touchdown through the Tennessee Titans’ first five contests and he is only averaging 59 yards per game. Last week’s 49-yard catch and run is one of the few highlights from the sixth-year running back’s season so far, as his longest carry of the year is only 23 yards. To put his diminished production into context, both the Philadelphia Eagles (LeSean McCoy and Michael Vick) and the Buffalo Bills (Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller) have two players on their rosters who have more rushing yards than Johnson.

But just how bad Johnson’s start in the context of the rest of his career? As it turns out, not that bad. The chart below details the numbers.

Chris Johnson’s stats through five games by year

CarriesYardsYards/CarryRushing TDs
2013 94 294 3.1 0
2012 73 210 2.9 0
2011 83 250 3.0 0
2010 113 485 4.3 4
2009 78 468 6.3 2
2008 85 381 5.0 2

Despite Johnson’s underwhelming start, he is still doing better through five games than he did last year and the previous year. Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to say he is playing well, but it is important to remember that things could be worse.

Also, despite having the worst opening five games of his career in 2012, Johnson still finished the year with 1,243 yards. Conversely, in 2010, Johnson had more yards through five games than ever before or since, but he finished with only 1,364. In short, there is still a lot of time left for the running back formerly known as CJ2K to turn his season around.

Chris Johnson’s final stats by year

CarriesYardsYards/CarryRushing TDs
2013 ? ? ? ?
2012 276 1,243 4.5 6
2011 262 1,047 4.0 4
2010 316 1,364 4.3 11
2009 358 2,006 5.6 14
2008 251 1,228 4.9 9

It is also worth mentioning that, through the first three games this year, Johnson racked up 256 yards on 3.7 yards per carry. It is only in the last two weeks that his performance saw a sharp downturn. Also, the Indianapolis Colts and Jacksonville Jaguars are ranked 31 and 32 in run defense, respectively, and the Houston Texans are in a three-way tie for 30th place. Five of the Titans’ 11 remaining games are against those terrible rush defenses, so expect Johnson to have a much stronger second half of the season.

*All stats are from