Despite a few sub-par seasons from Tennessee Titans RB Chris Johnson, I’m all in this season. Johnson frustrated fantasy owners in 2012 with an unusually slow start to the season. The player known as CJ2K carried the ball 42 times in the first three games for a mere 108 yards. Questions were raised about Johnson’s commitment to the game or whether he was simply mailing it in each week after landing a monster contract.
Johnson’s numbers last season were less than many owners expected as far as production. After the slow start he did manage 1,243 yards but found the endzone just six times. At times last year, the East Carolina back looked sluggish, indecisive and wasn’t crisp in his cuts.
His play was so poor this offseason there was speculation that the Tennessee Titans might decide to part ways with Johnson in order to relieve themselves from his salary, $10 million in 2013. Instead of getting rid of the explosive back, Tennessee decided to upgrade their offensive line.
Against the Washington Redskins on Thursday night, Johnson showcased his explosiveness with a 58-yard burst to the goal line. He spun rookie safety Baccari Rambo around so fast, he looked like a corkscrew.
Detractors will point out that the Titans also acquired RB Shonn Greene in free agency. I say, so what? I have never been impressed with Greene as a running back or a fantasy asset, ever. He’s a plodding, sluggish back that lacks explosiveness. Supporters will highlight back-to-back 1,000 yard season. Again, so what? Barely crossing the 1,000-yard threshold equates to 62.5 yards per game, not much for a supposed feature back. And BTW, have you seen the Jets offense the last two seasons?
If Greene struggles to move the pile in the middle of the field what reason do I have to believe that he suddenly will be able to do it on the goal line? I’m not buying into the impact that Greene will create this season.
Johnson has an attitude. After he rushed for 2,006 yards in 2009, he predicted that he would top 2,500 in 2010. He feel way short with a respectable 1,364 yards, 11 score season. He enters 2013 after watching everyone gush over the season Minnesota Viking RB Adrian Peterson put up last year. A nearly 2,100 yard season which was remarkable especially after coming off his disastrous knee injury the previous season.
Johnson also was not happy when the Titans decided to bring in Greene. He told reporters, “I have never been a fan of the two-back system, so I don’t know how we plan on using him.”
Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean reports that Johnson has looked remarkable in camp this preseason. Wyatt suggests that the explosiveness has returned and that he looks “fresher”. He also reports that his pass catching skills have improved. Wyatt suggests that Johnson seems more motivated this year.
Whether it’s the addition of Greene or the fact that the league is talking about Peterson instead of him, I’m buying what he’s selling this year. Consider me all in for CJ2K in 2013. 1,400 yards and back to double digit scores with 12.
EDIT: For those of you that sent along profanity laced comments about our omission of Jackie Battle in the Titans running back mix, let those words sink in a bit before making yourself look idiotic. It’s Jackie Freaking Battle, playing against second and third string players that will likely be flipping burgers or working at Home Depot in a few weeks. Three rushes for 8 yards hardly constitutes consideration for a Pro Bowl ballot vote.