Tuesday, October 11, 2011

It's Time To Stop Apologizing For Chris Johnson

So all I hear nowadays about Chris Johnson is how well, the lockout, and his holdout, are contributing to his sucking this year. I have no doubt that those two things are somewhat factors, but didn't anyone see how Johnson performed last year? It wasn't exactly dynamic, and memories of his 2009 season got him a pay raise that frankly he's not going to be able to live up to. Chris Johnson is fast, and a bit slippery, but defenses are stacked to defend him now, and I think he's got a reputation for not liking contact.

And why would he? He's a tiny guy for NFL standards, and his success came from evading tacklers. Last year he started to get crushed, and the little dance he does to try to juke people doesn't work anymore. It is the basic tenet of Moneyball that Johnson should have been traded while his value was high, so we could have gotten a lot of players in return, like perhaps a guy who could replace Kenny Britt in case he got hurt, which they don't have now. I believe almost any running back that the Titans could put in right now would be at least replacement level if not better, and think of all the rewards the Titans could have had by getting rid of him, instead of caving to the perception, and the fans who believed Johnson was worth the money.

What was good for the Titans while Britt was in the lineup was not that Chris Johnson suddenly had holes to go through because defenses had to cover Britt and Nate Washington (and potentially Jared Cook), but that defenses, geared to cover Chris Johnson, were not able to cover the Titan receivers. It is a passing league, and the Titans were close to becoming that team. But now Britt is gone and they don't have anyone like him out there, and the pickings are still slim for Johnson, while having no one that scares any secondary in the receiving corps.

It's a little upsetting how perception rules everything. It's one of the saddest aspects of sports, making your teams nearly unwatchable at times.

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At 10/18/2011 11:13:00 AM, Blogger Jonathan said...

I would never apologize for someone I don't know, but I think it's a little early to say he's done. Last year's stats still stack up pretty well against just about everyone else in the league, and just about every great running back has had an off year. You could be completely right; who the fuck knows when it comes to NFL Players? But there's a lot of season left and there's always next year to rebound as well. Look at freaking Steve Smith!

At 10/25/2011 06:24:00 PM, Blogger Mike said...

I don't know, we've been saying this for a while. I don't think that he's great, just good enough. There's very little upside here.

At 10/26/2011 12:18:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

He's got "explosiveness" as everyone will tell you and so that basically means he's not very tough and won't fight for those hard yards, but he can get on the outside and tear it up for a bunch of yards. He does have a ton of 50 plus yard runs over the last three seasons (more than anyone by a landslide), but his average keeps going down and if you look at his numbers over the last 16 games, they are very mediocre.

I looked into this a little closer and I agree with you guys. He could still have some good games, but I don't think he will ever be considered one of the best running backs in the league again.

I still can't blame the Titans for paying him. Anytime you sign anyone you are taking a bit of a gamble, and at the time I can imagine they thought he was worth it. Just sucks they were so wrong. The Vikings are having that same kind of problem with Adrian Pedestrian...oh sorry, I mean Petersen.

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