bill-swift - August 10, 2012
When Bud Adams made Chris Johnson a very rich man prior to the start of last season, he and the rest of the Titans fan base were looking forward to getting one of the most electrifying running backs in the NFL back on the field. Instead they got a guy that had trouble breaking a tackle or turning the corner on defenses.
Even with a lackluster running game last season the Titans were still in the thick of the wild card chase, and that was with a new quarterback behind center and no real training camp for guys to learn the system. With a full training camp under their belts, the team could really make some noise in the AFC this season, but that is if and only if the Titans get one thing--the 'old' Chris Johnson.
If the word out of training camp can be believed, the guy that ran for 2,006 yards in just his second season is the one that will be lining up for the Titans this year. The general perception is that the fifth year pro is back to the form that earned him a six year contract worth $55.26 million prior to last season.
I've been stunned," said Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. "He looks like the Chris Johnson of old. … He's fast, he's in shape. Looks like he's primed for a big year.
No one was quite sure exactly why he had trouble getting it together last season. Some blamed it on poor offensive line play, others thought he was out of shape, while some thought he just wasn't running hard. At one time the coaches though it could be their fault for not giving him enough touches. With the exception of Week 2 against a tough Baltimore defense, he ran for well over 100 yards whenever he got 20+ carries in a game.
Whatever the case may be, should he be back to version that accounted for 4,598 yards on the ground, 1,008 through the air, and 38 total touchdowns in his first three seasons the Titans immediately become true contenders in the AFC South. That guy is one that defenses must game-plan for; last year's--not so much. If Rapoport is right the Texans better watch out!