Why Chris Johnson is Struggling, and a Solution

It is no secret to Titan fans that their highly paid, highly glamorous running back Chris Johnson is not living up to the huge contract he signed before the start of this season. Through five games, the Titans are sitting 32nd, also known as last in the league in yards-per-game.

Johnson is currently on pace for 800 yards this season and is averaging 2.9 yards-per-carry. Of the 47 eligible players for yards-per-carry, Johnson is sitting 45th. This doesn’t sound like someone who just earned $30 million guaranteed and $55 million over the next six years.

Here’s what is really troubling, what appeared to be a slow start has turned into a slow season. After eclipsing 100 yards for the first time on the season, Johnson gained only 51 yards against the Pittsburgh Steelers, 20 of which were on the first play from scrimmage. The Steelers had been struggling to stop the run and were without starting defensive linemen Casey Hampton and Brett Keisel in the game.

Prior to the Titans, Pittsburgh was torched by Ray Rice and Arian Foster, it appeared that Johnson was on track to do the same.

The problem comes down to the Titans ultimately going away from the run late in the game. Johnson has ran the football more than 20 times only twice this season. In their first game against Jacksonville, Johnson got only nine.

If the Titans want to establish the run, they have to continue to give Johnson the ball throughout the game. His explosive speed can break any play, and that play can’t happen if it doesn’t get called enough.

His per carry average is always exemplified by his ability to break the 50+ yard run.

Matt Hasselbeck has shown that he can spread the defense, and that’s how the Titans can line up. By putting Johnson in a single back formation with multiple wide receivers, Johnson will have slightly more space to break one up the middle.


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