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Friday, December 13, 2013
Titans need run rhythm with hot hand

By Paul Kuharsky

Running back rhythm has been an issue for the Titans all season.

Playing from behind has certainly been a factor, limiting carries at times.

Johnson
Greene
But two games ago Chris Johnson started to get going and disappeared. And last week Shonn Greene seemed to be heating up late in the second quarter, but offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains was unable to stick with him.

There is always an explanation, and lots of factors go into it.

But this is a team that talked a great deal about running it and throwing it when they wanted to, not when they needed to.

That preseason plan has not panned out. The Titans, though, have run it plenty. Philadelphia is the NFL’s top rushing team, and they run it an average of 34.8 times a game. The Titans run it 30.3 times.

But the Eagles’ running backs are getting 4.7 yards a carry and Tennessee’s backs average 3.8. Philadelphia backs have run 31 more times than Titans’ backs, for 442 more yards.

Part of the problem was the knee injury suffered in the opener that cost Greene five games. He said when he returned he was “uncertain how stable it was” for a good while after he returned. Only now is he feeling back to himself.

Early in the second quarter in Denver, Green got three straight carries for 7, 6 and 1 yard. Six snaps later he got the ball again, and went for a 28-yard touchdown with 6:56 left in the first half.

Greene didn’t touch the ball again before halftime and got it four times for 3 yards after intermission.

“The stretch where he got hot and ran it, I think the next series was the 2-minute series, and we wanted to put CJ in there because of his explosiveness out of the backfield and his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield to make someone miss,” Loggains said. “Then after the half we came back in and I think CJ started the half. At that point we got down after the interception and it’s a different ball game and the running back has gone away at that point.”

It has gone away too often. And I suspect it wouldn't go away as much if they found a way to ride a hot hand better.