The San Diego Chargers will play their regular season home opener on Sunday at 1:25 PDT against the Tennessee Titans. The biggest key to victory will be San Diego’s ability to contain Tennessee running back Chris Johnson.
Johnson led the NFL in 2009 with 2,006 rushing yards on 5.6 yards per attempt to go along with 14 rushing touchdowns. Johnson had a great season in 2009, and was 100 yards away from breaking the all time record of 2,105 yards set by Eric Dickerson in 1984.
It is extremely rare to have such a season because only six players in NFL history reached 2,000 rushing yards in a season. Johnson went from 5.6 yards per attempt in 2009 to 4.3 in 2010 and 4.0 in 2011.
Johnson was and is still a threat though because he was seventh in rushing yards per game in 2010. Johnson was 20th in yards per game last season, but went through a contract holdout which more than likely had an effect on his play.
In two games against San Diego, Johnson had 36 attempts, 201 yards and two touchdowns. However, Johnson had an average outing in one of these games because he had 15 attempts, 59 yards and one TD in a loss during the 2010 season.
This can be done by avoiding the big plays. San Diego was tied with Tennessee and the Carolina Panthers for sixth in the NFL last season as only five teams gave up more rushing attempts that resulted in at least 20 yards. This happened to them 15 times in 2011.
Johnson was tied for third in the NFL last season with 11 rushing attempts that resulted in at least 20 yards. Johnson had 11 rushing attempts for four yards in a loss against the New England Patriots last Sunday.
I expect Johnson to be more involved on Sunday, but hopefully the Chargers will contain him.