Long gone are the days of three-down running backs in the NFL. There’s a new breed of running backs in town and New York Jets‘ Chris Johnson leads the pack. Johnson is not durable or very strong, but the guy is lightning in a bottle. The Jets have been missing a player like him since Leon Washington jumped ship to the Seattle Seahawks in 2010. The Jets’ lack of a dynamic play maker is what led to their stagnant play on offense last season. Jets QB Geno Smith was the scapegoat for the team’s lackluster play on offense, but now that Johnson is in town, Smith’s life at QB should be a lot more easy.
Not long ago Johnson was the top pick in many NFL fantasy drafts. The reason why he was a prized pick in fantasy was his ability to change the game and put up numbers. Speed kills in the NFL and all Johnson needs is an empty space and the ball in his hands.
Heck, the guy doesn’t even need blockers in front of him to make something happen, he has the ability to make defenders miss and create his own opportunities. Johnson is getting up there in age and he is fighting off a nagging injury, but he has plenty left in the tank.
It’s easy to forget that Johnson ran behind a makeshift offensive line in Tennessee and his old team never surrounded him with talent. Every game the opposing defense would key in on Johnson because he was the team’s only threat. In New York, Johnson should find better running lanes behind Pro linemen D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold. Add in weapons like Eric Decker and Jace Amaro as well and Johnson is no longer the only threat to worry about.
Johnson gives opposing defensive coordinators a little something extra to worry about. A quick screen or slant across the middle and Johnson could be gone for six. Running backs like Darren Sproles and C.J. Spiller are valued in this league because they have the ability to change the game on any given play. Sproles and Spiller are not every down backs, but they are threats to score every time they touch the ball just like Johnson.
If the Jets want to be amongst the top offensive teams in the league this year, it’s up to Johnson to make it happen.