Titans running backs coach claims Chris Johnson hasn’t changed


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.

23 responses to “Titans running backs coach claims Chris Johnson hasn’t changed

  1. 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.

    He’s busting his tail alright – busting his tail just trying to get out of the back field…how could you guys miss that?

    There’s clearly something wrong with the guys up front.

  2. Chris Johnson is about the same running back as he has been since he came into the league. Unfortunately for to him, his offensive line is not.

    If you had actually watched the Patriots-Titans game, you would know that every time there was a run, there were at least 3 defenders in the backfield to tackle Chris Johnson just as he received the handoff. It doesn’t matter what running back you are if you’re dealing with that poor of protection and absolutely zero holes and push generated from your offensive line.

    Why you continue to post article after article failing to address this is beyond me.

  3. …Well, if he’s still the same guy as before, but is far less effective now, then that means either:
    1. Defenses have figured him out, in which case he needs to adapt and change.
    2. His O-line’s run-blocking has gotten worse, in which case he didn’t deserve a big contract because his O-line was doing most of the work.

    I don’t think either explanation makes him look good.

  4. The track record of giving a big contract to even the best running backs entering their prime contract is horrible. Even if they play up to their contract for 2 years (which CJ64 hasn’t) and manage to not tear their ACL they rarely live up to their deals long term.

    I know there are exceptions, but I think most teams would be better off relying on the franchise tag for these guys rather than signing them until their 30th birthdays.

  5. What’s wrong with a tiered pay scale in the NFL? You automatically start at the minimum…when you meet x criteria, you get the next grade, the next grade, etc. You fail, you get busted down.

    Probably a Pollyanna-ish theory, but these guys are paid to play a game, it’s the ultimate “I love my job” occupation.

  6. Of course none of his problems running the ball had anything to do with the stout run defense the Patriots provided. Because we all know that the Pats can’t play defense. lol

  7. There’s only one running back in history who could have a productive career behind a god awful offensive line. His name was Barry Sanders. Face it, no offensive line equals terrible running game.

  8. The Titans’ offensive line isn’t much better than it was last year, and Johnson is doing the same things he has done since he got to the league, i.e. always trying to bounce runs to the outside instead of staying between the tackles, going down relatively easily, etc.

  9. The Vikings let their L guard go because he couldn’t get out on run blocking any more. The Titans signed him. Hutchinson can’t play the game anymore, much like the other linemen in TN.

  10. They were a lot more diverse team when Johnson was racking up those yards. WIth a relatively confident VY @ QB – he took a lot of pressure off the run game as opposing defenses had to play it safe due to Young’s ability to throw the deep ball (off target mostly) and his ability to run which opened things up to play action etc.

    That being said – If you gave me $55 million (or whatever he got) up front then told me to go digf the ditch, chances are I’d miss a couple Friday’s and show up a little late each morning

  11. Maybe if he would actually take a more humble approach things would change. He hasn’t played well yet he keeps talking. Why can’t he be more like a Barry Sanders. High production but acts like he’s done this before.

  12. Frank Wycheck said on the Zone that he watched the tape from the NE game and the holes were there, CJ is just not hitting them.

    I have also heard that Chris Palmer is not calling plays to fit his talents, so who knows what to believe. All I know if I drafted him in my FFL and am hurting!

  13. Something has to get fixed here, either new Offensive line, new Runningback, new offensive coordinator…2 years straight this team has serious running game issues…when the Titan ‘s had one of the best running games before that…

  14. I blame this more on the switch from Heimerdinger to Palmer at OC and the blocking (whether it’s new scheme or new personnel) than the running back(s).

    I know Javon Ringer only got a fraction of the carries CJ did last year and the year before…but his numbers were way down, too. And he got plenty of work learning Palmer’s offense in camp last year while CJ held out, so it wasn’t about being out of shape or not knowing the offense.

    There’s no doubt CJ is also pressing more now, which is a hard thing not to do in his circumstances, and that’s not helping things, either.

    I really just don’t trust Palmer or the run blocking at all when it comes to the calling a good game for RBs. Johnson, Ringer, whoever it is in the backfield.

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