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Saturday, September 29, 2012
The long-awaited return of the mailbag

By Paul Kuharsky

Stanley from Texas writes: I do know that Chris Johnson's running has been tumultuous through the first 3 weeks (except last week, which I think was severely skewed by his final three rushing attempts) but do you think because of the respect (from coaches and defenses, not columnists and reporters) that teams have for CJ, that this may be the reason for our continued success with things such as pass blocking and passing yards. If Jake Locker is continuously getting one-on-ones in the passing game and hardly getting sacked could some of this be attributed to the defense keying on CJ and not having an extra guy to send or double in the secondary?

Paul Kuharsky: Teams are not stacking the box to stop Johnson. They don’t need to. A player isn’t leaving coverage to help with the run.

Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips just said the Titans are a passing team, which is what they are and is stating the obvious.

People can talk about how dangerous CJ is over and over. But the way you show how you respect a running back is the defensive attention you give him. I’d say he’s lost significant respect from the people who matter the most when we look at their actions rather than their words.

Chad Edwards from Nashville, Tenn., writes: How long do you think it will be before a "real" ref stinks up a call like the one Monday night? You don't have to look very far in the past to find several iffy calls and no-calls made by guys we know by name. I contend that 1) The replacement refs weren't as bad as all the complaining players and coaches claim and 2) The players and coaches made this situation worse by pushing the boundaries of what's allowed more than usual and, basically, not acting very professionally. As bad as the black eye the lockout gave the NFL, I feel the players should be just as accountable in all of this.

Paul Kuharsky: They were bad. No need to debate the degree of it at this point.

The regulars will blow a call and people will complain and sensible observers will say they are the best at what they do and it could be worse and we’ve seen for ourselves.

If the rules are only enforced to a certain degree, it’s unreasonable to ask players to police themselves. In fact, it runs against their competitive natures.

Jim in Greenville, S.C., writes: Paul, Enjoy listening to you and the chiefs on 104.5 which I listen to in South Carolina on my iPhone. Impressive! I have to call you out. Last year, I wrote in that I'd take a sign-and-trade for Chris Johnson for two first-round draft picks which you balked at. You'll have to admit, I was right. My reasoning at the time was he wasn't a leader like a Keith Bulluck or Steve McNair. Running backs are largely less important than their O-lines and he didn't push to get extra yardage. As always, I enjoy the blog.

Paul Kuharsky: I’m guessing what I balked at was the sign-and-trade concept and the idea that Tennessee could have gotten two ones for him.

Two ones is part of the package for a No. 1 pick in the draft when he’s a QB, not for a running back with a big contract.

But if I balked at it and not at those things, my apologies. Your crystal ball in a completely unpredictable league is remarkable.

Leon Truss Balderas III from Houston writes: I really hope the Texans have a shot this year, but do you think with regular refs back high-flying AFC passing offenses, like the Patriots and Ravens, even the Steelers and Broncos, will be more successful because they will be getting the pass-interference calls that they were not getting, or worse the cornerbacks don’t play with a little bit of aggressiveness that makes them good?

Paul Kuharsky: Let’s not overrate what happened. The Patriots haven’t been losing because they were getting fewer pass-interference calls.

Brad from Houston writes: I am a huge Texans fan and am very excited about the team. But I must say two things: First, there's no way they should be ranked #1 right now on the Power Rankings. They have the talent, depth, and system to succeed and can go all the way if they stay healthy (I say CAN, not will). However, Atlanta has had a more impressive start and should be #1, especially given the uncertainty on the right side of the Houston OL.

Paul Kuharsky: I think Atlanta is a notch better right now. (I picked them before the season to win the Super Bowl.) But the Texans are awfully good.

Rick from Houston writes: ESPN's stats have the Texans giving up 42 points this season and ranking them 3rd in points allowed, however, the special teams have given up 7 points and the offense 2 points on a safety which, if my math is correct, means the Texan's D has given up only 33 points, the fewest allowed by any team so far.

Paul Kuharsky: Points given up are points given up. Given up by the team, for the purposes of stat keeping, are given up by the defense. There is no special place to put points scored against the offense or special teams.

Bobby from Buffalo, N.Y., writes: As bad as Chris Johnson has been running the ball for the Titans, there is at least one bright spot: he doesn't fumble too much. Looking at his stats from last year, he only had 3 fumbles out of 319 touches (runs and passes). even though he isn't gaining yards, at least he doesn't give the ball away. We don't know what we would get from a constant dose of Javon Ringer or Jamie Harper, so it's a small silver lining in Johnson's game for now.

Paul Kuharsky: So we presume the alternatives would have ball-security issues and we presume they wouldn’t run more effectively than CJ?

Johnson’s lack of production is growing tiresome. It’s time to see, at least on occasion, what the alternatives can do.

Cameron Wharton from Georgetown, Texas, writes: Can we talk about the impact of the loss of Ahmard Hall for the Titans?

Paul Kuharsky: Sure we can.

Hall was a nice leader for them for sure, and had a ton of respect. But his play had dropped off. They ran poorly last year with him on the team. They are running poorly without him this year.

Quinn Johnson subbed for him for the first four games last season and there was no giant difference. So I have no real beef with the decision to have Quinn Johnson in that role now. And Quinn Johnson is bigger, which is the type of fullback Chris Palmer likes.