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Friday, Aug. 29, 2014

Johnson is big part of Titans' problems

Thursday, October 27, 2011

(Photo)
Chris Johnson (28) has taken a tentative approach to running the ball as opposed to the aggressive manner at the point of attack that he displayed in his first three years with the Titans.
(T-G File Photo by Jimmy Jones)
NASHVILLE -- What's up with the Tennessee Titans' running game?

Tennessee has the worst-ranked run offense in the NFL, averaging fewer than 65 yards per game. That's more than 15 less yards than any other team.

Some say Chris Johnson isn't running hard and hitting the hole provided by the offensive line. Others claim the offensive line isn't providing a hole for Johnson to hit.

I think both observations are correct and it's a combination of the two.

No easy solutions

Unfortunately, it doesn't look like there's a quick fix to the issue.

Since signing a four-year, $53.5 million deal -- with $30 million guaranteed -- before the season started, Johnson has 93 carries for 268 yards, a 2.9-yards-per-carry average. That's a far cry from the numbers Titan fans have grown accustomed to him producing.

"Basically, you have to look at, if you're watching the game and you really can't tell what's going on with the run game, then obviously you really don't know football. You just see what is going on." Johnson said.

Accepting blame

I kind of have to shake my head after that quote. What point is he trying to get across? Maybe he thinks it's not his fault?

A number of offensive linemen as well as fullback Ahmard Hall took responsibility and said part of the problem in the running game was due to their play.

I haven't heard Johnson admit that on his part yet and I think that's why so many Titans fans are a little frustrated with him at this point.

"I won't say that I'm the issue. I'm very confident that I've been doing the things that I've been having to do," Johnson said. "It's a situation where I continue to say that I can't do anything but keep running hard and working hard and doing what I can do for this team.

Back to basics

Against the Texans Johnson rushed for 18 yards on 10 carries, his third lowest rushing total of his career.

Hopefully the running game will improve as the season progresses but I don't think there's a whole more you can do other than continue to work on blocking better and running hard at this stage of the season.

"There are only so many things you can do to change it," Tennessee coach Mike Munchak said about the struggles in the running game.

"Believe me, we have been trying things to change it as far plays you are running. I mean I can show you the same plays and show you him (Chris Johnson having a 2,000 yard season, running for 200 yards (in a game) with similar football plays."

"Not just Chris"

"It's just a matter of we are not playing very well, we are not running the ball very well. It's not just Chris. We are just not playing well. That's why it is not working. That is as simple as it can be. We are not playing well up front, the fullback, maybe the whole group of offense we are not blocking plays very well and that's why the running game is not doing very well."

I'm afraid any hopes of a successful season for the Titans are put on hold until the running game becomes more productive.

Gary Johnson is a Times-Gazette sports writer. Contact him at gjohnson@t-g.com.

Gary Johnson
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