AFC South: Eric Dickerson

Rapid Reaction: Indianapolis Colts

December, 15, 2013
12/15/13
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INDIANAPOLIS -- A few thoughts on the Indianapolis Colts' 25-3 victory over the Houston Texans:

What it means: The Colts didn't wait until the second half to get going offensively. They started on their first offensive series of the game. The Colts mixed up the run with the pass to go 80 yards on 11 plays on their opening drive. The drive ended with quarterback Andrew Luck finding receiver Griff Whalen for a 14-yard touchdown. That was the first time the Colts scored a touchdown in the first quarter since doing it against Denver on Oct. 20. Slow starts have been a problem the past seven weeks for the Colts, but they went into the half with a 20-3 lead. They were 5-of-8 on third down in the first half after going 0-for-6 in the first half against Cincinnati on Dec. 8. The one downside about the Colts on offense is that they started the game 5-for-5 on third down but failed to convert on their final 10 attempts.

Whalen steps up: Whalen has been an afterthought this season after having a strong training camp. He was elevated from the practice squad Saturday because of the injury to fellow receiver LaVon Brazill (foot). He took advantage of the opportunity. Whalen, a college teammate of Luck's at Stanford, caught four passes for 45 yards, returned three punts for 67 yards and a kickoff for 22 yards.

Being honored: Former Colts running backs Eric Dickerson and Marshall Faulk were inducted into the team's Ring of Honor at halftime. Dickerson rushed for 5,194 yards and 32 touchdowns during his five seasons with the Colts. He won the league's rushing title in 1988, when he gained 1,659 yards to go with 14 touchdowns. The Colts traded Dickerson to the Los Angeles Raiders following the 1991 season. Faulk rushed for 5,320 yards and 42 touchdowns to go with 297 receptions and 2,804 yards in his five seasons with the Colts. He was traded to the St. Louis Rams after the 1998 season because he thought he deserved a raise. Dickerson and Faulk join Robert Irsay, Bill Brooks, Chris Hinton, Ted Marchibroda, Jim Harbaugh, the 12th Man, Tony Dungy, Marvin Harrison and Edgerrin James in the team's Ring of Honor.

Injuries: Colts guard Joe Reitz left the game in first half after being tested for a concussion. Starting running back Donald Brown sat out the second half with a stinger. He ran for 38 yards on five carries. Linebacker Daniel Adongo (hamstring) and safety Sergio Brown (groin) also left the game.

What's next: The Colts go on the road to take on the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. The Colts and Chiefs have a chance to face each other in the playoffs in Indianapolis.

Colts will honor Faulk and Dickerson

October, 9, 2013
10/09/13
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INDIANAPOLIS – Lost in the news of running back Ahmad Bradshaw deciding to have season-ending knee surgery Tuesday was that the Indianapolis Colts plan to add former running backs Marshall Faulk and Eric Dickerson to the Ring of Honor together during the Dec. 15 game against Houston.

They will be the 10th and 11th members of the Ring of Honor, joining Robert Irsay, Bill Brooks, Edgerrin James, Marvin Harrison, Tony Dungy, Jim Harbaugh, Chris Hinton and Ted Marchibroda and the 12th Man.

Faulk, the No. 2 overall pick in the 1994 draft, rushed for 5,320 yards during his five-year career with the Colts. Dickerson rushed for 5,194 yards during his time with Indianapolis.

The city of Indianapolis also received some good news Tuesday, as it joins Minneapolis and New Orleans as finalists for the 2018 Super Bowl. Indianapolis hosted a successful Super Bowl in 2012.
Maurice Jones-Drew has a 3-yard lead on LeSean McCoy for the NFL rushing title.

It’ll be a nice accomplishment if the Jaguars' running back wins it, but it’ll also be used as evidence of how being a top running team doesn’t equate to being a top team -- or even a winning team.

If he wins it, it’ll be particularly impressive since the Jaguars have the league’s worst passing offense. Since defenses do not fear Blaine Gabbert or his downfield weapons, defenders are typically willing to key on MJD.

And still, he’s churning out 4.5 yards a carry and has taken a league-high 250 rushing attempts.

I asked ESPN Stats & Information for other instances in which the league’s top running back was on the NFL’s worst passing team.

They got this from Elias:


With Simpson and Lewis, you have to assume for a guy to run for that many yards the passing game was de-emphasized. The Titans were 23rd in pass offense in 2009 when Chris Johnson ran for 2,006 yards.

That’s obviously not what’s going on in Jacksonville, where rookie Blaine Gabbert is struggling and has no threatening downfield weapons. Jones-Drew is very much a one-man gang. The Jaguars are playing from behind a ton. And he’s still got a shot at being the league’s most productive running back.

That’s impressive work.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Chris Johnson ran his conditioning test somewhere between 12:00 or 1:00 CT, way late considering practice was at 3:30. He passed of course, running a 300-yard shuttle in under 60 seconds, taking the five-minute rest that’s built in, and beating 60 seconds again.

Chris Johnson
Paul Kuharsky for ESPN.comRunning back Chris Johnson stretches during training camp after receiving a new contract earlier in July.
I believe it was a year ago on this day that we scoffed when he talked about wanting to run for 2,000 yards. Saturday he said he wants 2,500, but would be happy with anything beyond Eric Dickerson’s 2,105, the NFL’s single-season record.

He'd like an MVP to come with it.

"They'd have no choice," he said. "No player ever did it twice back-to-back, so I don't think they'd have a choice."

In the salary adjustment that moved money from later in his contract to signing bonus this season, he said there were no discussions about whether the team intended to renegotiate after this season, the third of the original five-year deal.

He praised new running back coach Craig Johnson, saying the coach who recently shifted from quarterbacks knows the playbook like the back of his hand. Johnson did visit once with Kennedy Pola -- in Florida where Pola lived in Jacksonville and Johnson in Orlando.

I asked if a guy who considers himself “Every Coach’s Dream” thought the offensive coordinator post at USC was a better job that coaching him.

“It’s a business, so it’s about money at the end of the day,” Johnson said. “More money for him.”

The other player who spent the offseason away, Stephen Tulloch, was on the field as the starting middle linebacker after his unsuccessful bid for a long-term deal. He will play for his one-year tender of $2.521 million unless agent Drew Rosenhaus can pull off something.

“It’s just unfortunate that my year [for unrestricted free agency] I’m stuck in this bind with 211 other people,” he said. “… I understood how it works, let my agent work on it and he continues to work hard in Miami.

“You work tremendously hard, you sacrifice your body every week, every year you give it all you’ve got. You look at the situation, obviously you’re not happy with it, but what can you do? Your hands are tied. There’s a deadline, you’ve got to sign, you’ve got to move forward. I’m here, I’m going to put that behind me, finish this season off strong, get to the next level and try to be a Pro Bowl caliber-player.”

Gerald McRath, the outside linebacker who’s suspended for the first four games, wasn’t with the first team defense in team periods. Collin Allred, who’s spent the offseason in Tulloch’s spot, was outside opposite Will Witherspoon. Allred said he was told he’d get work outside, but he was surprised it was with the starters. He said he seeks to be a utility guy and special teamer.

David Thornton, the likely starter outside while McRath is out, was one of five Titans placed on the PUP list, along with Damian Williams, Tony Brown, Nick Schommer, Jamar Love and Willie Rose. Jeff Fisher made it sound like they would all be back in the short term.

Also...

  • Justin Gage dropped out of practice with an intestinal problem and Lavelle Hawkins wound up working with Nate Washington on the first team. It would probably have been Kenny Britt – who made several nice catches along with Dominique Edison -- if he wasn’t dealing with cramping.
  • Vince Young is used to joking around with Dowell Loggains, an assistant coach. But he said Loggains was far more serious in his first official action as the quarterbacks coach. The quarterback said he was glad to see Loggains in the post, replacing Johnson.
  • Fisher said he believes Derrick Morgan is in Tennessee. GM Mike Reinfeldt indicated to the coach before practice that a deal with the first-round pick was getting close.
  • Veteran tight end Sean Ryan, a relatively recent addition, said he thinks he will be given a chance to prompt the team to keep four players at the position.

Johnson tops 2,000-yard plateau

January, 3, 2010
1/03/10
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Chris JohnsonAP Photo/John FroschauerChris Johnson becomes the sixth player in NFL history to go over 2,000 yards rushing.
SEATTLE -- The packaging wasn’t what he wanted.

How great would it have been to go over 2,000 rushing yards on the season with a 62-yard touchdown sprint?

It got called back on a debatable holding call and Chris Johnson had to join an exclusive club weaving together smaller runs, with nothing longer than 12 yards, during a 17-13 win over the Seahawks.

The hosts managed to prevent the big play, keeping Johnson away from Eric Dickerson’s all-time record, but allowed him to become the sixth running back to reach the magical number.

It took 36 carries, seven more than he’s ever had before, for him to get to 134 rushing yards and a season total of 2,006. That is the fifth-best ever, ahead of O.J. Simpson’s 2,003 in 1973.

He was already talking about targeting Dickerson’s 1984 record 2,105 yards next year, a season Vince Young said won’t end until the Super Bowl.

“I didn’t get the record (this) year, so that’s what’s next for me,” Johnson said. “That would be my goal coming into next year. That would be something I can work hard for.”

Based in the Bible Belt, Johnson has spent his second season converting a lot of football people. He’s got swagger. He’s got a sense of humor. And, having talked about 2,000 yards back in training camp, he’s got the right to predict the outlandish without drawing raised eyebrows and scoffs.

Johnson thinks he can beat Usain Bolt over 40 yards, because Bolt’s best work in the 100 comes after that. Go ahead and laugh. That’s what everyone did when he talked 2,000 back in July or August.

(A bit of context: Johnson finished second in a Florida state high school final to Walter Dix in the 100-meter dash, and Dix finished third behind Bolt in the Beijing Olympics. And again, we’re talking 40 not 100.)

“He set a goal and people kind of laughed it off,” Titans tight end Alge Crumpler said. “And every week as we got closer and closer people realized it was attainable. I’m proud of him.”

Johnson just ran for 2,000 yards for an 8-8 team, a team that started 0-6 and trailed by enough often enough that running plays on offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger’s play sheet should have been crumpled up and tossed in a sideline garbage can.

The club he joined, for reference: Dickerson, Jamal Lewis, Barry Sanders, Terrell Davis and Simpson.

Now, with your permission, I will meander a bit rather than take the straight line Johnson prefers.

Called back

Just before he got to 2,000, Johnson had one of his signature breakaway runs -- darting through the line, he left the people chasing him looking like they were in slow motion as he went those 62 yards.

But fullback Ahmard Hall was called for a hold of linebacker David Hawthorne.

Referee Ed Hochuli said he had no question about throwing the flag.

“The ruling was that he hooked him with both arms at the point of attack, and pulled away from where the ball carried ran right by him,” Hochuli told a pool reporter.

But Hawthorne said while he was happy for the flag, he didn’t know it involved him until a couple reporters surrounded him when the locker room opened.

“You just told me,” he said.

Hall was surprised by the call and said it’s a block he makes all the time.

Tennessee’s veteran center Kevin Mawae talked with Hochuli about it and the ref said he wouldn’t have called it unless it was legit.

“My opinion now, not talking bad about the referee because I don’t want to get fined, but unless it’s just so blatant and a takedown, you’ve got to just let the guy go,” Mawae said. “We’re on the cusp of breaking an all-time record and to have it take away like that is just disappointing.”

It’s hard to know what unfolds from there if the 62-yard run stood. Take away the six yards Johnson was credited with on that play, the eight additional yards he gained on that drive and figure he would have had at least 48 more than he finished with. That gets him within 51 yards of Dickerson and puts him third all-time.

And if Dickerson was in range at the end, Mawae said Jeff Fisher would have allowed for more carries at the end of the game instead of instructing Vince Young to kneel down twice to run out the clock.

A young face of the league

By all accounts including mine, Johnson’s a good guy. If you’re scared off by gold teeth or dreads or less than perfect grammar, you’re missing out on friendly and funny.

Peyton Manning’s not vacating any major endorsement slots anytime soon, but should Johnson be near the front of the line of the next wave of marketable NFL stars?

“I feel I should,” he said from behind a podium under Qwest Field, a sparkling cross hanging over a sharp purple, silver and white tie loose at the collar under a gray vest. “I don’t know if any back has done it in two years. That’s what any guy wants to plays any sport. They want to be the next Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant or whoever you want to name. They want to be that guy.”

His name doesn’t sing. But Crumpler said he doesn’t see an Average Joe moniker slowing down the running back.

“If you can get a Chad Johnson that level of attention, you can get it for Chris Johnson,” Crumpler said.

Said Hall: “With the braids and everything, a lot of people try to stereotype him. He’s a good guy. He’s a great guy. He doesn’t get in trouble. He’s never been in trouble. He definitely should be up there with the rest of the guys as a face of the league, according to his accomplishments.”

A special line on a resume

Mawae has played in 241 games in 16 seasons and been named to seven Pro Bowl teams.

The big hole in his career is the Super Bowl, and he still expects to get to one.

At this point, though, where does being part of the line that blocked for one of just six 2,000 yards back in history rank for him? What slot on his NFL resume should it occupy?

“This would probably have to be No. 1 right now,” he said. “No. 2 is winning the rushing title in 2003 (with the Jets and Curtis Martin).”

Johnson doesn’t know that yet, and I’m certain he will be flattered by it. As the Titans go through a Monday meeting and take exit physicals, Mawae said he expects there will be a moment he will let the running back know how he feels about what he did.

Others will too.

While they have several alternates that will likely get to the game, Johnson’s the only Pro Bowler now. He once promised cars to his linemen if he got to 2,000, then quickly backed off. But premium gifts have been purchased and will be presented Monday.

And he’s inviting them all to join him at the Pro Bowl, though he’s unsure how many will accept and be with him in Miami.

The next big number

Hold 2,106, Johnson’s yardage, up against $560,000, his scheduled base salary for next year, and even the staunchest opponent of contract renegotiation might allow agent Joel Segal to broach the topic.

Johnson’s also slated for $800,000 in 2011 and his base should jump from $960,000 to $2.5 million in 2012 because of an escalator.

The 24th pick in the 2008 draft is outperforming his five-year, $12 million deal, with $7 million guaranteed, but that’s what the Titans get for being smart enough to draft him.

Running backs have short life spans, Segal knows. If Johnson waits for his sixth year to get what he’s worth, odds are he won’t be worth it any more. Still it’s awfully early for any renegotiation.

“We’ve talked about that, about the money situation,” Hall said. “I think he and his agent will handle that well, but I don’t think the team will want to risk anything with CJ. I think he’s the best running back in the league right now as far as production goes.

“I think both sides will handle it well and get something done, because you definitely don’t want to break up this chemistry that’s going on with CJ. …He’s outplayed the contract and I think he deserves more money.”

General manager Mike Reinfeldt said the Titans haven’t even begun to ponder such things.

“He’s had a very special year,” Reinfeldt said. “But it’s also very rare that going into the third year people redo a deal.”

How I See It: AFC South Stock Watch

December, 29, 2009
12/29/09
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NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Falling

1. Jaguars pass defense: Free safety Reggie Nelson was benched in favor of Anthony Smith, but that was hardly a shake-up that produced a big effect. A combination of a toothless rush and loose coverage helped assure the Jaguars dropped to 7-8 in New England.

Tom Brady completed 23 of 26 passes for 267 yards and four touchdowns. Randy Moss ran open for big plays and Wes Welker caught all 13 balls that came his way. The Jaguars were not credited with a quarterback hit, let alone a sack.

2. Jim Caldwell, Colts coach: His team's bizarre Sunday surrender against the Jets shines a bright spotlight on Indianapolis’ first-year coach. Caldwell made all the right moves in winning his first 14 games, and his team needs to believe this was a correct one for the long term, even if it hurt in the present.

Not trying doesn’t seem to benefit the team in anyone’s eyes, and what if they don’t win that Super Bowl? Won’t we point back at the Jets game as a spot where the possibility crept into the Colts’ consciousness?

3. Vince Young, Titans QB: The finale in Seattle is a big game for Young, who surely wants to head into the offseason feeling better about his game than he did after a miserable performance against San Diego on Christmas night.

He completed 38 percent of his passes for 89 yards, nothing longer than 15, with two interceptions, no TDs and an 11.9 passer rating. As good as Young's been since taking over for Kerry Collins, a performance like that showed why some still might have doubts.

Johnson
Don McPeak/US PresswireChris Johnson needs 128 yards next week to reach 2,000 yards for the season.
Rising

1. Chris Johnson, Titans RB: The Chargers did great work against the Titans, and still Johnson managed 142 rushing yards and another 37 receiving. While his touches have increased, he’s shown no signs of wearing down.

On a Sunday when six games involving at least one AFC team have playoff implications, Titans-at-Seahawks won’t be one of them. Still, the game will draw a lot of interest. Johnson’s got a shot at becoming the sixth player to rush for 2,000 yards in a season (he needs 128 yards). He needs just 75 yards from scrimmage to eclipse Marshall Faulk's single-season record in that category (2,429 yards in 1999). Johnson needs 234 yards to break Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record (2,105 yards in 1984).

2. Brian Cushing, Texans OLB: The rookie is nicked up, but you can’t really see it on Sundays. Against Miami he didn’t play like a beat-up, worn-down first-year player. He played like Houston’s best defender.

Game statisticians gave him nine tackles to go with his sack and interception. He showcased the versatile game that made him the guy the Texans spent the 15th pick in the draft on.

3. Arian Foster, Texans RB: We’ve crushed the Texans for their failures in the run game, so Foster deserves credit for making the most of his chance in a crucial game against Miami. Nineteen carries for 97 yards, a 5.1-yard average and a touchdown amounted to a fine day.

Odds are the Texans will be forced to run in order to beat the Patriots Sunday. Foster should be first in line for carries in that scenario and beyond if the Texans earn a playoff berth.
Projecting the playoff field with Dom Bonvissuto. He has Jags losing two, Titans winning two but not getting in and Texans losing two.

Brian Cushing and Jacob Lacey make Mike Tanier’s All-Rookie Team.

Jim Caldwell’s on Dave Goldberg’s list of the best coaches; Gary Kubiak’s among the worst.

Houston Texans

Arian Foster needs to take advantage, says Jerome Solomon.

Duane Brown (knee) may not be able to play, says John McClain.

The case for Matt Schaub as a Pro Bowler, from Mike Kerns.

Possible courses of action regarding Steve Slaton, from Battle Red Blog.

Rookie ratings from Lance Zierlein put Cushing first, Percy Harvin second and Clay Matthews third.

Indianapolis Colts

Peyton Manning is looking good in a poll of MVP voters, says Mike Chappell.

Over the past eight seasons, no team has turned the ball over less than Indianapolis, says Phil Richards.

After practicing Monday, Anthony Gonzalez was out Wednesday, says Chappell.

Ryan Diem isn’t slipping, Chappell says.

Adam Vinatieri says it’s a now or never type of thing, says John Oehser.

Seven surprising gifts the Colts got this year, including the development of Pat McAfee and Lacey, from Oehser.

Breaking down the strength of the Colts’ schedule compared to San Diego's, with Deshawn Zombie.

The Colts are the team to beat in the AFC, says Clifton Brown. (Vinnie Iyer says it’s the Chargers.)

Jacksonville Jaguars

History isn’t kind to the Jags against the Patriots or Tom Brady, says Vito Stellino.

Fred Taylor expanded on his remarks about the Jaguars, and said LA may be a better alternative, says Michael C. Wright.

Fearing “the banana cream pie effect” with Vic Ketchman.

Can the Jags finally get by the Patriots, asks Jonathan Loesche.

Tennessee Titans

Chris Johnson still thinks he has a shot at Eric Dickerson’s rushing record, says Jim Wyatt.

Rod Hood’s working in the place of the injured Nick Harper, says Wyatt.

Wyatt’s game breakdown.

Gerald McRath and Colin Allred feel ready to step in as the outside linebackers, says Terry McCormick.

McRath’s got the spotlight now, says Estwick.

CJ knows how to pace himself

December, 14, 2009
12/14/09
11:53
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Chris Johnson’s 39-yard touchdown run early in the Titans’ blowout of St. Louis was his seventh rushing score of 20 or more yards, ESPN Stats & Information informs me.

That’s just one shy of the single-season NFL record shared by Jim Brown (1958) and Terrell Davis (1998).

Johnson also topped 100 yards rushing for the eighth consecutive game, breaking the franchise record of seven held by Earl Campbell. He also set a new Oilers/Titans record for scrimmage yards, with 186 boosting his season total to 2,017. Campbell has 1,981 for the 1980 Oilers.

Johnson’s 2,017 yards from scrimmage are the fourth most through 13 games in league history, behind O.J. Simpson in 1975 (2,120), Priest Holmes in 2002 (2,104 and Walter Payton in 1977 (2,051). Brown had 2,008 in 1963.

Here’s a breakdown of where Johnson stands 13 games into the season compared to where Eric Dickerson was at the same point in 1984, when he set the all time single-season rushing record with 2,105 yards.

It's hard to fathom what Johnson's doing.

But here's one concern looking ahead: Vince Young's run-threat presence and overall play helped Johnson take his production to a different level. Young left Sunday's game with a hamstring injury. If he's unable to play next week against Miami or beyond -- the Titans finish with games against San Diego and at Seattle -- will it have a bearing on what Johnson does or doesn't do?

Final Word: AFC South

December, 11, 2009
12/11/09
4:00
PM ET

NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 14:

The Jaguars won’t come out and say so, and a high-pressure game isn’t new to them, but Sunday against Miami is a must win if they’re making the playoffs. If Jacksonville beats Miami and can win at Cleveland on the final Sunday of the season, losses to Indianapolis and at New England in between may be survivable. That would put them at 9-7 with an 8-4 AFC record. Maurice Jones-Drew has slowed a bit but did well when the Jags needed him to milk the clock late last week. He’ll need to be in playoff form for Jacksonville to win a game crucial to their playoff hopes. Tony Sparano hasn’t lost in December yet.

Matthew Emmons/US PresswirePeyton Manning and the Colts aren't as concerned about a perfect season as they are about securing home-field advantage through the playoffs.



A perfect record is not the Colts’ goal, but clinching the best possible playoff situation is priority one. A win over Denver at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday does that, and securing home-field advantage through the playoffs with three games remaining in the regular season would be a remarkable feat. It would also mean the Colts set a new record with 22 consecutive regular-season wins and post their fourth 13-win season since Peyton Manning joined the team in 1998. From 1953-97, the Colts won 13 games in a season once -- in 1968 when they went 13-1 before losing to the Jets in Super Bowl III.

Weekly Chris Johnson update: With four games left, the Titans running back needs to average 123 yards a game to reach 2,000 yards rushing and needs 149 yards a game to get to Eric Dickerson’s record of 2,105. Greetings, St. Louis run defense, which is yielding 146 yards a game. Looks like a perfect marriage to put us in position for another update next week, don’t you think?

Matt Schaub will play against Seattle with his left, non-throwing shoulder strapped up. The wrong kind of hit from the Seahawks defense could mean we see Rex Grossman. The Texans have been good at winning late in the season after playoff dreams dwindle. Do they keep that up and does it help Gary Kubiak’s job security? At the season’s start, how many people had these two teams -- both 5-7 -- as locks for the playoffs? I thought Seattle would bounce back and make it, wasn’t as sure about Houston.

Jacksonville plays who the league tells it to, when the league tells it to. But the Jaguars have built their record with seven wins over teams that don’t have a single winning record and currently have a .345 winning percentage (skewed by St. Louis). Meanwhile, they’ve lost to the only two winning teams they’ve faced -- Indianapolis and Arizona. The five teams that have beaten the Jags have a .583 winning percentage (skewed by Indy). Now Jacksonville can determine if the 6-6 Dolphins are a winning or losing team come Sunday night.

Reading the coverage: Most targeted

December, 6, 2009
12/06/09
11:55
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Titans-Colts is Clark Judge’s game of the week.

A look at the league’s most-targeted defenders features a lot of AFC South names. A good piece from Ed Thompson.

Houston Texans

Maurice Jones-Drew can dash the Texans' playoff hopes, says Dale Robertson.

Jacoby Jones won’t play, after the Texans left him home for disciplinary reasons, John McClain.

Gary Kubiak talks turnovers.

Antonio Smith was fined for a hit on Dallas Clark.

Indianapolis Colts

A survey of voters shows Peyton Manning in the lead for MVP, says Mike Chappell.

The record streak is within reach today for the Colts, says Chappell.

The Colts swear they are on the verge of busting a big return, says Phil Richards.

Five things to watch for in Titans-Colts, from John Oehser.

The Colts are ready to face three old teammates, says Tom James.

Reviewing special teams, from Deshawn Zombie.

Jacksonville Jaguars

It’s crunch time for the Jaguars, says Vito Stellino.

The Times-Union breakdown.

December with the playoffs on the line is the best time of year, says Vic Ketchman.

Another look at the state of the Jags and Jacksonville, from Gil Samson.

Tennessee Titans

Chris Harry of the Orlando Sentinel takes a wide perspective look at hometown guy Chris Johnson.

Johnson is Shannon Sharpe’s favorite guy to watch, says Jim Wyatt.

Which Vince Young will the Colts see, asks Doug Farrar.

Fans use their magic mojo to keep the winning streak going, says Jessica Bliss.

Manning still has devotees in Nashville, says Gary Estwick.

Wyatt’s matchup page.

Johnson on Eric Dickerson, from Wyatt.

Final Word: AFC South

December, 4, 2009
12/04/09
4:02
PM ET
NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 13:

[+] EnlargeDallas Clark
AP Photo/Michael ConroyThe Titans may not have enough people to keep Colts tight end Dallas Clark in check.
Dallas Clark had nine catches for 77 yards when the Colts dismantled the Titans on Oct. 11. He told Nashville media this week that Tennessee doesn’t generally lock in one guy to matchup with him, but that he expects nickelback Vincent Fuller most of the time with a splash of Keith Bulluck. With Clark, Reggie Wayne and Austin Collie playing well and Pierre Garcon rebounding from a tough stretch, will the Colts have more targets than the Titans are able to defend with Cortland Finnegan, Nick Harper and Fuller as the primary defensive backs?

Minus cornerback Rashean Mathis (groin), the Jaguars have given up significant passing yardage the last two weeks -- 297 to the Bills 26th-rated pass offense, 232 to the 23rd-rated Niners. What’s that mean as they head into a game against Houston, which is ranked third? Pass pressure’s been an issue for the Jaguars. Matt Schaub is much less effective against the blitz, but can the Jaguars afford to send extra rushers when their coverage is already more susceptible without Mathis?

If Chris Johnson runs for 104 yards in Indianapolis, he’ll become just the fifth player ever to reach 1,500 in the first 12 games of the season. Walter Payton did it in 11 games in 1977, Jim Brown did it in a dozen games in 1958 and 1963, O.J. Simpson did it in 1973 and 1975 and Terrell Davis did it in 1998. Only two of those six seasons wound up over 2,000 yards. Johnson’s 1,396 yards this season put him on pace for 2,031 and is currently ahead of where Eric Dickerson and Jamal Lewis were through 11 games when they had the top two rushing seasons in NFL history. If CJ tops 125 rush yards, he’ll be the first player ever to do it in seven consecutive games.

Brian Cushing against Maurice Jones-Drew should a very compelling matchup. Cushing been resting a foot injury during the week but playing fantastic on Sundays, making a case for defensive rookie of the year. The Jaguars will doubtlessly look to establish MJD and feed him the ball early and often. Three of the four times MJD has had fewer than 10 touches in the first half, they’ve lost and the one they won they jumped up to a big lead early and basically rested him.

The Titans five-game winning streak isn’t in the ballpark of the Colts’ 20-game string (11 this year), but add this year’s stretches together and you’ve got something. Tennessee and Indy square off tied for the longest combined winning streak -- 16 games -- in an NFL Week 13 game since the AFL-NFL merger. In 1984 Denver (10) and Seattle (six) played in similar circumstances, with the Seahawks winning by three.

Johnson's November a record month

November, 30, 2009
11/30/09
12:37
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Chris Johnson continued his historic march with another big game Sunday in the Titans’ win over Arizona.

Here’s a breakdown from the NFL of what he’s doing:
  • Johnson gained 154 rushing yards (8.6 average) on 18 carries in the Titans’ 20-17 win over Arizona. Johnson has posted at least 125 rushing yards in six consecutive games, tying the NFL record set by Pro Football Hall of Famers Earl Campbell (1980) and Eric Dickerson (1984).
  • Johnson is the first player in NFL history with six consecutive games of 125+ rushing yards and a 5.0+ yards per carry average in each of those games. Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Brown (1958) accomplished this feat in five consecutive games.
  • Johnson rushed for 800 yards in November, the most by a player in a calendar month since 1970.

And from ESPN Stats & Information:

A look at Johnson's pace

November, 18, 2009
11/18/09
1:43
PM ET
Chris Johnson’s pace is a big topic, and if he keeps it up he'll finish with 1,940 yards. Eric Dickerson set the league record with 2,105 yards in 1984 with the L.A. Rams.


Johnson

Here are the current standings of the rushing defenses CJ will face the rest of the way:

  • Houston: 14 (tied)
  • Arizona: 8
  • Indianapolis: 14 (tied)
  • St. Louis: 28
  • Miami: 7
  • San Diego: 23
  • Seattle: 11

According to ESPN Stats & Information, he’s also on pace for the highest yards per carry for a primary running back with at least 100 carries in NFL history.


And his 631 yards in his last three games rate as the fifth-best three-game rushing binge in league history: Deuce McAllister had 665 in 2003, Marshall Faulk and Priest Holmes each had 643 in 2001 and Tiki Barber has 641 in 2005.

A sleepy Johnson told Dan Patrick he doesn’t get caught from behind, after a game he hurts all over, he thought Bud Adams’ salute reflected the Titans’ attitude and Vince Young’s brought the Titans some swagger.

Here’s a link to the interview courtesy of Sports Radio Interviews.

Some context for CJ's day

September, 21, 2009
9/21/09
10:42
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky


Had the Titans won Sunday, all these details about what Chris Johnson accomplished would get a lot more attention. Because they didn’t, they are all followed by, “but the Titans lost.”

Still, here are some of the impressive contextual details:
  • He is the first player in NFL history to record a 90-plus yard rushing touchdown (91), 50-plus yard rushing touchdown (57), and 60-plus yard receiving touchdown (69) in a game.
  • FROM ELIAS SPORTS BUREAU: Johnson scored touchdowns of 57, 69, and 91 yards in the Titans’ 34–31 loss to the Texans. That’s more TDs of 50 yards or longer than Curtis Martin or Eric Dickerson scored in their entire NFL careers.
  • Johnson was the first player to score three TDs of 50 yards or longer in one game since Qadry Ismail did it for the Ravens in 1999, and he was the first player in NFL history to do so in a loss. (ELIAS)
  • Johnson was also the first player ever to score a rushing touchdown and a receiving touchdown, each covering at least 50 yards, in the first quarter of an NFL game. (ELIAS)
  • This list from ESPN Stats & Information isn't bad either, is it?
50-Yard Rush TD, 50-Yard Rec TD Same Game, Since 1980
Year Player, Team Rush TD Rec TD Opp.
2009 Chris Johnson, TEN 57 69 HOU
2002 Clinton Portis, DEN 51 66 KC
1986 Herschel Walker, DAL 84 84 PHI
1985 Lionel James, SD 56 60 CIN
1980 Walter Payton, CHI 50 54 WSH

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