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Terrell Davis questions Chris Johnson’s “desire”

Chris Johnson AP

Is Chris Johnson a player in decline?

That’s a question NFL teams will have to ponder if the 28-year-old tailback is released by Tennessee this offseason. Johnson is due $8 million next season, and he gained just 3.9 yards per carry this season, so speculation about his future is only natural.

In a story published by the Nashville Tennessean on Tuesday, former Broncos tailback and current NFL Network analyst Terrell Davis indicated Johnson’s physical skills were still up to par. Johnson, Davis told the paper, “still has something in the tank.”

However, Davis questioned Johnson’s “desire” to play hard.

“When I watch film, I don’t see the effort in him,” Davis told the Tennessean. “And I never, ever want to question somebody’s effort. But … the tape, it doesn’t lie. And I don’t see the desire I saw when he was Chris Johnson, the no-big-contract Chris Johnson.

“I see times when maybe he is not getting as many yards as he could. He could break a few more tackles, and maybe hit the hole a little harder at times.”

Johnson signed a four-year, $53.5 million contract before the 2011 season. Since then, he’s gained 4.1 yards per carry, gaining 3,367 yards on 817 attempts.

Before the contract extension, Johnson racked up 4,598 rushing yards on 925 carries in his first three NFL campaigns, averaging 5.0 yards per attempt from 2008-2010.

Numbers are numbers, and the tape is the tape. If Johnson hits free agency, teams will make up their own minds on what they see. Johnson’s exceptional career production and dependability (one game missed in six NFL seasons) will work in his favor.

In the end, any list of potential suitors for Johnson would likely be RB-needy clubs, ones that might be willing to give him the benefit of the doubt were he to need any at all. Nevertheless, Davis’ comments are interesting, and are they ever strong.

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18 Responses to “Terrell Davis questions Chris Johnson’s “desire””
  1. DrSteveBrule says: Jan 29, 2014 1:26 AM

    Doesn’t Terrell Dingus say this about a different running back every year?

    For your health.

  2. FinFan68 says: Jan 29, 2014 1:30 AM

    Too many guys slack off after getting a big contract. It’s a character/integrity thing. Teams should be careful who they give big money to. Great stats mean little if the guy is going to turn into average Joe when the checks get huge.

  3. easywolf says: Jan 29, 2014 1:45 AM

    He needs to grow up and get off twitter

  4. backdapack4evr says: Jan 29, 2014 4:16 AM

    Andrew luck is a fraud!!

  5. anonymous135 says: Jan 29, 2014 6:32 AM

    I’ve noticed the same thing at times, but it never ceases to amaze me how he absolutely destroys in pass blocking. DESTROYS!!

    Tiny skinny speedster dude laying out pass rusher’s… never did anything for my Fantasy teams but I just loved seeing him on REDZone lighting these dudes up time to time… :)

  6. jcrileyesq says: Jan 29, 2014 6:35 AM

    says the guys whose desire to play hard was questioned because he had migraines…. no CJ fan but played with a torn meniscus

  7. mgmac says: Jan 29, 2014 7:20 AM

    Davis should also question the desire if Arian Foster of the Texans after Arian received his big fat contract

  8. xxsweepthelegxx says: Jan 29, 2014 8:01 AM

    You gotta love TD….one of the greats. And he’s right. CJs always had the talent, but no one should pay him like an every down back in today’s RB world. No RB that made the money he has should give you 20 carry/15 yd stat lines.

    CJ could be really good still in a time share role. he is dependable health wise, he can catch out of the back field. I see something like BUF has with Spiller/Jackson.

  9. mrstinkypants says: Jan 29, 2014 8:21 AM

    What is this “tape” thing you speak of?

  10. gatorsandsteelerssuckbigblackclocks says: Jan 29, 2014 8:26 AM

    Somebody please take him. CJ’s like the hot girl that doesn’t return your calls but still gets you to do her homework. Does absolutely nothing for you until right before you give up on her, she touches your thigh. He is the scourge of this city.

  11. mistercue62 says: Jan 29, 2014 8:46 AM

    For an experienced player of his pedigree, Terrell Davis is evidently not much of an analyst with respect to the “effort” of a fellow marquis running back. I’m no NFL alumnist nor do I claim for a second to have the credibility inherent to a high-profile talent like Davis, but I’m sorry…as a former tight-end, I feel confident enough in my own experience to exhort that any idiot can see that much of the problem with Chris Johnson’s output (at least over the past season or two) has been the “effort” of the Titan’s O-line; to wit: the players responsible for opening those “holes” that TD puzzlingly asserts Johnson needs to “hit harder”. Furthermore, it also (evidently) doesn’t take an “expert” to have noticed from even a peripheral perspective that the Titans have not exactly been an offensive juggernaut in terms of their passing attack; nor has it escaped the attention of pro-football fans that the team has suffered it’s share of injuries to key offensive players over the term of Johnson’s contract, noteably to their (still unproven) quarterback, Jake Locker and the highly touted & talented WR Kenny Britt. As any 3rd grader can tell you, defenses tend to key the run when they see evidence of weakness in the passing game. Additionally, this conjecture pales in comparison to the most glaring contributing factor to the recent decline in Chris Johnson’s productivity; namely widespread inconsistency in the coaching techniques, philosophies & staff; the most dramatic shake-up occuring in early 2013 that (among several others) saw Loggaines moved from quarterbacks coach to offensive co-ordinator and (more significantly) the firing of running-backs coach Jimmy Skipper, replaced by Sylvester Croom (who reportedly had a less-than-amicable working relationship with Johnson.

    Add to all of this the fact that Johnson has played under more than one head coach during this allegedly dubious contract period (ie. Jeff Fisher, Mike Munckak and now Ken Whisenhunt) with their respective (& very different) offensive game-plans and you have a recipie for dysfunction & confusion, if not total chaos; most noteably the departure of Fisher, with whom Johnson had a long-standing mutual respect & extremely productive working relationship.

    The Oakland Raiders (among several others) are a team which jumps to mind that would welcome Chris Johnson with open arms should he ultimately be available as a free-agent. Notwithstanding the level of interest should he indeed become available, the team that is lucky enough to land CJ2K will realize in short order that they’ve acquired an extremely talented and motivated running back in his prime; eager to prove to the fanbase, the league and himself that he is still an elite player capable of changing a game woth a single touch.

    One has to wonder what Terrell Davis’ motives were in making these ill-conceived, borderline vicious remarks concerning Chris Johnson’s so-called lack of “desire”; a cerebral attribute by the way which would realistically require clairvoyancy to accurately assess (I strongly suspect that Terrelle Davis, for all his athletic gifts, is no more a psychic than he is an analyst). Is Davis acting altruistically in the best interests of the game or does he have a hidden agenda or an old axe to grind?

    Regardless, Terrelle Davis needs to shut up and mind his own business.

  12. cowpiesnotcowboys says: Jan 29, 2014 9:29 AM

    CJ desires to be paid.

  13. idpfantasyfootball says: Jan 29, 2014 9:50 AM

    mistercue62 — Excellent post! CJ2K shoulders a lot of the blame that needs to be spread among that Titans organization.

  14. purplepunisher says: Jan 29, 2014 9:52 AM

    He once claimed he was the best RB in the game, better then Peterson. Since then Peterson has spanked him so badly that CJ has lost his desire to compete.

  15. titantony says: Jan 29, 2014 10:04 AM

    mistercue62 obviously hasn’t seen as much of CJ curl up and fall down as I have in watching the Titans this past year. I agree the OL is not what it was or at least has not played as well as it should have or was capable of the last couple of years (under Bruce Matthews), but to blame CJ’s production or lack there of on every other facet of the game is ridiculous. The 2 coaches he has actually played for (sorry but he hasn’t actually played for coach Whiz yet) were very similar in strategies and philosophies and play calling. So when I read the article, I thought TD hit the nail on the head in using the term “Desire”. Although I don’t think CJ’s body and legs are as fresh as it was when he entered the league, I also don’t think he’s lost much, I just don’t think the effort is there most times. So to blame every other part of the offense (coaches and players) is ludicrous. The only thing I can take away from mistercue62’s comments would be he has some vested interest in making sure the blame is deflected away from CJ and his abilities and motivations. But I guess that is becoming the norm now for everything…it’s always someone else’s fault. I seriously doubt TD has an Axe to grind with CJ unless of course he doesn’t like the fact that CJ also has a 2 letter title.

  16. joetoronto says: Jan 29, 2014 10:33 AM

    Desire, what desire?

    Most everybody expected him to take the money and quit, but in defence of the Titans, they had no real choice but to pay him the money and hope for the best.

  17. dodohead418 says: Jan 29, 2014 12:58 PM

    Exactly, he got paid and quit on us. Injury or not!

  18. flipola says: Jan 29, 2014 3:47 PM

    Whether it’s his lack of desire, if he’s not being used right, his blockers, doesn’t matter. His play doesn’t match his pay. He’ll go down as a blueprint of what not to do, contract-wise. As long as the rules are tweaked to benefit the passing game, who needs a $50M running back?

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