Titans’ running game can’t get worse
Posted: Friday, November 4, 2011 7:02 pm
By TERESA M. WALKER
AP Sports Writer
NASHVILLE (AP) — Call it looking on the bright side or being an optimist. Then again, Chris Johnson has a point.
Surely, the Tennessee Titans’ ground game can only get better since it’s already the worst in the NFL.
The man who led the NFL in yards rushing during his first three seasons now is tied for 34th in the league this season after signing a $53.5 million extension with $30 million guaranteed.
The Titans rank last in the NFL yet again, averaging 68.9 yards per carry, and Johnson watched backup Javon Ringer from the sideline in the fourth quarter last week.
Johnson couldn’t wait to get back to work.
“Basically this is a situation where it can get no worse really, so it can’t do nothing but go up,” Johnson said. “I’m always eager to get back on the field and practice after a bad game and make it better.”
A rough season has turned even more challenging over the past few days. Titans coach Mike Munchak tried to make it clear Monday that Johnson remains their starter at running back, yet critics unhappy with his performance compared to the always popular backup want to see if Ringer can produce if given more carries.
He’s also been booed at most home games this season, but Johnson said the criticism doesn’t bother him.
“I know if they’re a true fan, they’re with you through the ups and downs, anytime. Through my first three years, I’ve been doing good, and they’re my fans. As soon as I have a couple bad games, then they’re automatically not my fans and boo me, this and that. They’re probably just fans through fantasy football and something like that.”
Actually, Johnson has had six bad games and one 101-yard rushing game as the Titans (4-3) prepare to host Cincinnati (5-2) on Sunday.
Johnson has just 302 yards on 107 carries with a 2.8-yard average, and that ties him for 34th in the NFL with the likes of Jackie Battle of Kansas City and Daniel Thomas of Miami, a pair of backs who have had far fewer carries than the three-time Pro Bowler. And 46 NFL players have had longer rushes than Johnson’s best this season, which went for 25 yards.
Johnson said it’s easy to keep his confidence up since it can’t get any worse.
“You’ve got to stay confident. You’ve got more games to play. It can easily turn around with one play,” Johnson said. “It’ll be all right.”
Ringer is averaging 3.5 yards per carry, but the third-year back out of Michigan State refuses to be pitted against his friend no matter what anyone says.
Published in The Messenger 11.4.11