On Chris Johnson's excellent rebound

November, 12, 2012
11/12/12
4:20
PM ET
Chris Johnson rushed for 126 yards and a touchdown on 23 rushes Sunday, including a 17-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. The Dolphins allowed an opposing rusher to gain 100 yards for the first time in 23 games, ending the longest streak in the league.

Johnson now has four touchdowns and five rushes of at least 20 yards in the last four games after failing to record any in his first six.

He deserves a great deal of credit for his turnaround, because he did close to nothing in four of the Titans’ first five games with rushing totals of 4, 17, 24 and 24.

The other six games have had four more impressive totals: 141, 91, 195, 99, 141 and 126.

He's now tied for fourth in the NFL in rushing yards and fourth in the NFL in total yards from scrimmage.

Before the 126 in Miami, Johnson did an interview with Titans Radio that qualified as a pretty introspective take from him on his play.

He is a little carried away, however, in suggesting the lone problem with regard to his early struggles were all about lack of opportunity. If you average 1.7 yards a carry on 14 handoffs against Detroit, why would your team give you the ball more?

The Titans faced six of the NFL's top run defenses in their first 10 games. Johnson sold himself as a guy who could run against virtually anyone when he got that big, new contract, so I am not super-comfortable with that as an excuse for the temporary disappearance.

As I’ve said before, I want a top skill player to always think he’s going to be great, even if it feels awkward when he isn’t. The mindset is important. But Johnson, and his blockers, slumped early and I believe he is incapable of admitting it.

Accountability and confidence are not mutually exclusive.

“I never lost my confidence,” he said. “I got very frustrated a lot of the time. You’ve just got to stick to it. Never one time did I think I lost it, I can’t do it no more.”

Whether he admits it or not, he’s running with more purpose now -- certainly behind better blocking. Whatever switch has been flipped, the Titans need to make sure it doesn’t get turned back off.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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