- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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He ran for 2,006 yards in 2009, which is an incredibly difficult feat.
Chris Johnson worked awfully hard to accomplish that.
But he also allowed it to sort of swallow him up. In many ways, his identity is CJ2K.
Two thousand yards became something he couldn’t help but bask in well after the 2009 season was over. He set it as a goal, time and time again. He deemed himself not just as a running back but a playmaker, and used that to get a giant contract.
The trouble was, those monster plays became less and less frequent.
The blocking got worse and the play calling became more questionable, and Johnson was quick to point that out and slow -- and by slow, I mean we're still waiting -- to say "my bad" and take any blame himself.
When his coaches early last season said he was taking plays designed to go outside and turning them inside, he basically denied it.
On Nov. 14, 2013, he scored a chugging, twisting 7-yard touchdown in a loss to the Colts at LP Field.
It ranked as an uncommon effort, and when he was asked about it after the game he said he'd had few chances to make such a play over the course of the season.
There was his failure, in my eyes.
Through that game, he had 168 carries. He saw few chances at high-effort, big-play runs in 168 carries? He finished the season with 279 carries and he had a very low percentage of those kinds of runs.
I think he came to believe things were going to be easier than they were in reality. He talked of 2,000 yards and his TV race against a cheetah and that speed, that speed, that speed.
Paired with his occasional criticism of his blocking and the offense's play calling, it hardly smacked of accountability.
Somewhere along the way, he could have said, he should have said, "There are multiple issues with the run game, but I'm the guy with the ball in my hands and I have to figure out how to do more while the other people involved work on their elements."
That he was incapable or unwilling to see things that way keyed his downfall with the Titans. Well, that and a combination of a 3.9-yard average and that scheduled $8 million salary.