I just watched Chris Johnson dance in the backfield after receiving a handoff on the Colts’ five-yard line, stutter step a few times, try to bounce to the outside, and then get tackled for a five-yard loss.Yes, that all happened on my TV, and yours. When I saw that, I had one question: why?
The result was a long and winding 20-play drive ending in utter disappointment for the Titans, as after plodding and plugging for 75 yards, a field goal would have to suffice. But I/we care little about that during these trying fantasy playoff times. Here’s what matters: Chris Johnson has decided to revert to being a tip-toeing jerk during one of the most important weeks of the fantasy season.
Before this devolves into another quick rant filled with all of the anger and vitriol for one of fantasy’s most inconsistent running backs, some perspective and fairness is required. The Titans entered this day with four of the five offensive linemen they started the season with on the injured reserve, where they’ll remain for the rest of the season. So as I noted during this week’s Tweetbag, we should have expected and feared a possible reemergence of the Johnson we saw early this year; you know, the guy who had 45 rushing yards over the first three weeks.
And I think and hope Johnson’s owners understood that as they watched him continually get pinballed in the backfield, but his dancing remains incredibly frustrating. There’s still a point when an offensive line weakness isn’t acceptable as a blanket excuse, because an elite running back — of which Johnson is, sometimes — will at minimum be able to identify even a faint hole and carve a reasonable gain every now and then. When those add up, we get a productive game.
Yet over the past two weeks prior to today, Johnson has averaged 3.9 yards per carry. That’s not terrible, and it’s included runs of 36 and 26 yards. But it’s just so meh, and it’s a full yard lower than his season average.
Today the low has sunk to an even lower low, as with six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter Johnson has only 38 yards on 18 carries (2.1 YPC), while Jake Locker has 51 yards on three scrambles. And that’s against a Colts defense ranked 22nd while defending the run.
Just when you thought the Johnson we saw over the first five weeks was gone, he sucked you back in.