Titans running back Chris Johnson has looked like a very, very different player since he got his big contract prior to last season. In his first three NFL seasons, Johnson averaged 98 yards a game and 4.97 yards a carry. In 17 games since signing a contract that made him one of the highest-paid running backs in the NFL last season, Johnson has averaged 62 yards a game and 3.85 yards a carry.
But Titans running backs coach Jim Skipper says Johnson is still the same player he’s always been.
“He hasn’t changed. He’s always a guy who is going to read his cuts, and then he takes it and goes. He hasn’t changed his style at all,” Skipper said, via Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean. “You can’t change a way a person walks. What you can do is just make sure they are walking in the right spots. For the most part he has been doing that. He is not just going helter-skelter.”
Skipper dismisses any notion that Johnson is content now that he got paid and not working hard anymore.
“The guy is busting his tail, OK? Everybody has their own opinion about things, but I don’t see it that way. He is a confident guy and trying to make things happen,” Skipper said.
That all may be true, but something is clearly going on with Johnson. A running back who gains only four yards on 11 carries, as Johnson did on Sunday, is a running back who is doing something seriously wrong, whether he’s busting his tail or not.