On Chris Johnson and the 'right situation'

December, 26, 2013
12/26/13
4:54
PM ET
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The blocking for Chris Johnson still isn't good, but it's better than it was a year ago.

Still, he is hesitant to blame himself much for his average of 3.8 yards per carry or the fact that despite being within nine carries of San Diego's Ryan Mathews, Johnson has 161 fewer yards than a guy who's been a huge disappointment until this season.

CJ needs 50 yards Sunday against Houston just to get to 1,000 and 53 just to get to half of his 2009 total of 2,006 yards. A thousand yards isn't even much of a milestone -- it's an average of 62.5 yards a game.

[+] EnlargeChris Johnson
Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY SportsSince earning a huge contract following his first three seasons in the league, Chris Johnson is averaging just 4.1 yards per carry.
But Johnson won't consider a pay cut of his $8 million scheduled salary for 2014.

“No way," Johnson told Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean. “I don't feel like it's all my fault. It's a team effort.”

Johnson's getting paid $10 million this season. The run-game failures don't have to be all his fault for him not to get $8 million more.

“I know I am way better than trying to get 1,000 yards in the last game,'' he said. “But looking at the situation, it is a whole bunch of things that go into it. So I don't get too down on myself. I know when I get the ball and put in the right situation I can still do the same things.”

The right situation for Johnson doesn't come up very often. I think the Titans can find a back who sees more right situations in more common situations.

Johnson is also talking of running in the 4.2s. He's still fast, of course. If he can't get in the open field, it doesn't matter nearly as much as he thinks. That speed got him a long run of 30 yards this season.

If coach Mike Munchak is fired, a new coach will surely have a say in what the Titans do with Johnson going forward.

I've written time and time against about the cost versus production equation being against him.

If Munchak is back, I think part of his ongoing attempt to fix the run game will be to move on from Johnson and find another, cheaper guy who can break a tackle or drag a pile to go with Shonn Greene.

CJ ran for 4.97 yards a carry in his first three seasons, earning a giant contract. Since he got it, that average has been 4.10 yards a carry.

The Titans can get that production for a lot less money.

That said, I completely understand Johnson's stance. If a team says we want you but for less money, you have the leverage. You can say, "Thanks, but no thanks." And if that prompts the team to cut you, you can shop yourself to 31 other teams.

That part of it is smart business, not selfish.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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