Breaking Down the Chris Johnson Demise

By Devin O'Barr

Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson is currently 26th in the NFL in rushing yards. This is the same all-pro back three years removed from a 2009 season in which Johnson rushed for 2,006 yards. Johnson has been putting an awful taste in NFL fans’ mouths since he began his holdout in the summer of 2010 and his comments this morning are completely asinine.

“We need somebody in this locker room to make plays and give us a spark.”

It is obvious Johnson has no grasp when it comes to just how much money $56 million over six years is. That should pay for a lot of sparks. Tennessee management took a chance on him, made him the face of the franchise and backed him throughout his career. Johnson has repaid them with four rushing touchdowns since he signed his new deal on Sept. 1, 2011. Before the contract, Johnson had rushed for 34 touchdowns in 47 games including the aforementioned 2,006 yard season.

Incompetency is one thing. No one is asking Johnson to rush for 2,000 yards every year, but what upsets me is that he has the nerve to ask for a spark and is so ready to push the load on someone else. Especially given the situation because Johnson’s 2012 stats are comical, rookie QB Robert Griffin has more rushing yards than Johnson and Chicago Bears linebacker Lance Briggs has two more touchdowns than the multi-million dollar back.

The Titans are not Super Bowl contenders and are definitely a rebuilding team, but Johnson is getting paid to do more than run the ball. Setting an example and being a leader comes with the territory–both which are things that have yet to be seen.

When an organization makes such a large commitment to one player, it only makes sense that the money has to come from somewhere. For instance, had Johnson taken a smaller deal, Titans management would have been able to offer former Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan more money before he signed with the St. Louis Rams this summer.

This is not Madden. The money is real and teams around the league are taking notice of  just how risky big contracts are. Top running backs Matt Forte, Maurice Jones-Drew and Ray Rice all received extensions before the 2012 season, and although all were smaller deals than Johnson’s, the premise still remains. Buyer beware.

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