Dec 8, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson (28) rushes on fourth down in the second quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean interviewed the new Tennessee Titans CEO and President Tommy Smith.
Smith was asked a series of questions regarding the future of some of the Titans biggest names including boom-or-bust RB Chris Johnson, often injured QB Jake Locker and underachieving head coach Mike Munchak.
When speaking of Johnson, Smith was quoted via Jim Wyatt:
"“Chris has done nothing but what he’s been asked to do there. He suits up and he plays every game. I think they need to figure out how to use him and his skill set better, but he has been a good teammate and a good player … We are evaluating each and every position on this team and we are only going to keep players we think will contribute, and earn their keep.”"
For me, this was a huge break of silence I needed to hear. I’ve been on the edge ever since NFL.com’s Mike Silver reported last weekend that Johnson was expected to be released at season’s conclusion. Despite Johnson’s erratic performances, I’ve always took his side. Yes I understand that when you are getting $53 million that one must perform at an ultra-elite level. It’s very annoying how people are so quick to criticize him. It’s almost like the worst thing he could have ever done was rush for 2,006 yards in 2009.
Smith didn’t say Johnson wasn’t going anywhere, but did acknowledge that he has done what the organization asked of him. He credited him for being a great teammate and a positive player in the locker room despite ups and downs. Smith did put partial blame on the coaching staff for not exactly utilizing him the way they should.
Smith should lean toward keeping Johnson around. The bulk of his hefty contract has been already paid. Johnson is due to earn $8 million over the next two seasons. I have reason to believe that before, if it came down to it, was released he would be asked to renegotiate his contract.
As far as Locker is concerned, Smith stated that “Locker is in the team’s future plans and the coaches and personnel remain high on him.”
The only person who didn’t get the greatest vote of confidence was Coach Munchak. Smith praised Munchak’s character and his contributions to the Titans/Oilers organization over the last three decades. He explained that Munchak has been very close to not just the organization but the family. He went on to say that at the end of the day this is a business where winning games is what matters. Smith seemed very torn when talking about the coach.
Based on my interpretations I feel that Smith will give Munchak the benefit of the doubt if he can conclude the season on a three-game win streak. I don’t necessarily know if that’s best for the team, but there seems to be a commitment to lifelong friendship. I can’t necessarily knock that.
Locker and CJ will remain with the team. Munchak will get an opportunity to remain within the organization. I know it’s unheard of for a head coach to take a demotion, but at the same time, I highly doubt there is another team who would want Munchak as their head coach.
Until next time folks, Titan Up!