Chris Johnson may want more work than the Titans can give him.
Johnson told David Climer of the Tennessean that if he touches the ball 10 or 15 times a game, “that’s really not going to do anything for us.” Johnson wants to touch the ball closer to 25 times a game, a number that offensive coordinator Chris Palmer believes is pushing it. He’s not opposed to feeding Johnson, he just doesn’t think that the offense’s success can be that closely tied to one player’s contributions.
“We can’t allow people to come up and jam the box and make it difficult to run,” Palmer said. “In an ideal situation, you’d like to be 45 percent pass, 55 percent run. But depending on whom we’re playing, it may switch to 60 percent pass, 40 percent run. Or it can be a higher percentage of passing depending on the score.”
Johnson averaged 19.9 touches per game in 2011, leaving him with 319 for the season. That’s 89 fewer than he got in the 2009 season and 41 fewer than in 2010. Those numbers aren’t so drastically different as to explain why Johnson was less effective in 2011 than he was in either of those years and it lays bare the difficulty in projecting exactly how the Titans offense will look this season.
If the offensive line blocks more effectively than they did in 2011, the Titans will have more success on the ground. If they pass more effectively, they will likely have more success on the ground. Doing each of those things without seeing more burst and explosiveness from Johnson won’t create much of a difference. If Johnson’s game is back in form, though, the Titans will likely give him every opportunity to make life difficult on defenses.