Thursday, September 1, 2011
Prolific Chris Johnson gets paid
The Tennessee Titans and holdout running back Chris Johnson agreed on a four-year, $53.5 million extension on Thursday. The league’s most prolific running back is now under contract through 2016.
Just three seasons into his NFL career, Johnson’s list of accomplishments is already long.
Since entering the league in 2008, no one has more rushing yards than Johnson. Of course, that includes the sixth 2,000-yard rushing season in NFL history.
Only two players -- Eric Dickerson (5,147) and Earl Campbell (5,081) -- accumulated more rushing yards in their first three seasons than Johnson (4,598). Meanwhile, his 4.97 yards per rush is the highest among running backs through three seasons (min. 600 attempts), topping Barry Sanders’ mark of 4.93.
But what exactly does Johnson mean to the Titans?
Since the start of 2008, no NFL running back has been used as the focal point of his team’s offense more than Johnson. He was the rusher, passer or targeted receiver on 1,110 of the Titans’ 2,869 plays in that span, which accounts for nearly 39 percent of the Titans offense.
Among the top five running backs in usage rate, not only is Johnson’s rate the highest, but he also averages the most yards per touch (5.3). Of all running backs with at least 500 touches over the last three seasons, Johnson’s yards per touch average ranks a close third behind Ray Rice (5.40) and DeAngelo Williams (5.37).
Since entering the league, Johnson has simply been the most explosive back in the game.
He leads all players in carries of 20, 30, 40 and 50 yards over the past three seasons. There have only been eight 20-yard rushing plays by Titans not named Chris Johnson during that span.
With a high usage rate and those big-yardage plays, it should come as no surprise that Johnson's ability to move the chains is integral to Tennessee's offense.
His 226 rushing and receiving first downs account for 30 percent of the Titans’ total first downs. Only Adrian Peterson and Maurice Jones-Drew have accounted for higher totals among all non-quarterbacks.
-- John McTigue contributed to this report