I’ve heard of this phenomenon occurring in other stadia, with other players, but have never before witnessed it until this year at LP Field. Fans are literally on the edges of their seats every time Chris Johnson (or Chris Jones, as Keith Olberman called him) is about to touch the ball. When he does, most of those fans rise in order not to miss anything.
Chris Johnson is on pace to rush for 1,940 yards. Photo by Andrew Strickert
There is an excitement in the air, a palpable sense that CJ is about to make another big play.
If Johnson wasn’t dangerous enough already, offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger has made him even more so. The screen pass, which the Titans have never run with much success, is now another potent weapon in the arsenal.
The Buffalo Bills were stacked to stop CJ on Sunday but that didn’t stop him from adding 100 receiving yards, many on screens, to his 132 rushing yards.
The Dinger has also added an option pitch to the playbook, which puts CJ on the edge, something that must terrify opposing defensive coordinators just a little. Of course, there is a way to stop that. Dinger had better not call that play too often if he wants to keep Vince Young healthy.
Still, the option has been successful in its brief use to date. CJ scored on it two weeks ago and had a big gain on Sunday.
Johnson now has 1,091 rushing yards, an average of 121 per game. He’s on pace for 1,940 yards and will need to average 130 yards for each of the remaining games to reach the 2,000 yard plateau.
Looking ahead at the schedule, the toughest opponent against the run is Miami, which yields 98 yards per game. The most generous opponent is St. Louis, which gives up 142 ypg.
The magical 2,000 yard mark is attainable. CJ has averaged 156 ypg over his last four games, against defenses geared to stop him. If he continues on that pace, he’ll end with 2,181, a mind-numbing accomplishment. The NFL single-season rushing record is 2,105 yards, set by Eric Dickerson in 1984.
Four others have also topped the 2,000 yard mark:
Jamal Lewis 2,066
Barry Sanders 2,053
Terrell Davis 2,008
O.J. Simpson 2,003
In sixth place on the single-season rushing list is Earl Campbell, who holds the franchise record of 1,934 yards.
If you haven’t been to a Titans game yet this year, don’t miss out on the excitement. You could be witnessing history.