After Monday’s regular weekly press conference following this weekend’s loss to the Falcons, it’s clear to me that The Powers That Be at Baptist Sports Park are having a “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” story about Chris Johnson’s play. Did the offensive line play well? No, they clearly struggled at times and most running backs would have struggled to gain positive yardage on a number of Chris Johnson’s carries this week. The problem is, Chris Johnson in the past wasn’t “most running backs.” The Titans didn’t sign Chris Johnson to a lucrative extension less than three months ago to be “most running backs.” Even with the rest of the team struggling, the Titans paid Chris Johnson to do more than he did last Sunday.
Frankly, what I suspected about Chris Johnson after the Browns and the Steelers game has been confirmed by recent events: he is able to be effective only when he sees green grass in front of him and either no defender or a defender he can avoid off to the side. When the offense is able to put him in positions like that, he can be successful. That happened a lot against the Panthers. It’s happened hardly at all the rest of the year. What I think his play against the Texans showed is that it isn’t necessary to have the same kind of penetration the Falcons had last Sunday to take Chris Johnson out of the game. All you have to do is not give him open space. That means Chris Johnson’s effectiveness is a reflection of the ability of the offense to give him that space.
Now, I thought the Titans understood this after the Texans game. They started playing Javon Ringer just as much as they did Johnson. After some success in the first half of the Bengals game, though, The Powers That Be apparently decided CJ was “back” and decided to play him almost exclusively. And he’s been about 99% as mediocre as he was the rest of the year before then. By this point, I have no idea what The Powers That Be are seeing. Unless CJ’s play is a pawn to a dysfunctional or divided organization or they’re playing Chris Johnson with their eyes on parting ways with him before the franchise pays him any more money beyond this season, they’re engaged in a fool’s exercise and I’m not having any more of it.
Unless and until there are drastic changes in Chris Johnson’s level of play, I’m done with him. I’m not going to write any posts about him. I’m not going to spend my time obsessing about him. I’m going to avoid him as much as I can while still blogging about the Titans as I see fit.