From a talent perspective, Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson is one of the best backs in all of the NFL. However, as has been proven time and again, talent alone doesn’t cut it in professional sports. That’s a lesson that Johnson apparently needed to be taught coming into the 2012 season.
The run-heavy Titans were looking for a monster year out of their primary running back, but he failed to deliver that. Johnson carried the ball 276 times in 2012 for only 1,243 yards and six touchdowns, far less production than he’s capable of. Johnson often missed holes and running lanes that were opened up for him and, at times, didn’t really seem to care all that much about playing football.
Now Johnson’s carries are likely to be reduced for the 2013 season as the Titans signed Shonn Greene earlier this off-season. From a pure skills perspective, Johnson is unquestionably the better of the two running backs. However, Greene will provide them versatility at the position and will be looking to prove himself again after a disappointing season last year with the New York Jets.
Though his touches will be fewer this season, having Greene on the Titans may end up being the best thing to ever happen to Johnson in his career. For the first time since being drafted by the Titans, the running back job doesn’t solely belong to Johnson. There’s a chance that this might finally get him to put in the work and the effort necessary to get back to the form where he was a 2,000-yard rusher.
To be clear, Johnson isn’t going to rush for 2,000 yards in the 2013 season. Simply, there aren’t going to be enough carries coming his way with Greene on the roster for that to happen. However, the much maligned Johnson might finally be playing inspired football once again. If that happens, he has the talent to deliver an elite performance. Greene may not be prolific this year for Tennessee, but if he gets Johnson working hard, he’s worth every penny for the Titans.