Breaking Down Chris Johnson's Form at the Midseason Mark

Marlon Maloney@@marlonmaloneyCorrespondent IOctober 24, 2012

Oct 21, 2012; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson (28) runs against the Buffalo Bills during the fourth quarter at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Titans beat the Bills 35-34. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-US PRESSWIRE
Kevin Hoffman-US PRESSWIRE

Chris Johnson has been one of the most despised players in the NFL this season. Fantasy football owners would have you believe that he had killed a guy or something.

Nope, instead CJ had committed the crime of rushing for 2,000 yards in 2009 and not maintaining those numbers the following two seasons.

That may be a bit quick of me to word it that way; after all, he was held to 64 yards or less in 12 games last season.

But when Johnson started the season with a grand total of 45 yards through three weeks, of course the boo birds came out for him again—and deservedly so.

Jake Locker had more rushing yards than the team’s $55 million running back during that same time span.

However, over the last four weeks, Johnson has looked like the CJ of old, with 451 yards rushing on 58 carries. He has averaged 7.78 yards per carry and 112.75 yards per game during that span.

If Johnson is able to maintain his current form, he would finish just shy of 1,500 yards for the season.

So which Chris Johnson should we expect to see the for the rest of the season? The answer seems to depend on how well the offensive line blocks for him. 

On far too many occasions, CJ has been forced to dodge oncoming tacklers in his own backfield. Johnson is also guilty of being indecisive and appearing to be lackadaisical after being stuffed early in games.


While Johnson's stats over the last four games have been great, they're heavily padded by the 195 yards he gained against the Buffalo Bills' 32nd-ranked run defense.

He even has a fourth performance, in this season alone, when he rushed for 24 yards or less. That means that in four games this season, Chris Johnson has rushed for a total of 69 yards.

The encouraging part of CJ's last four games is that two of his stronger games have come against top-10 run defenses.

The Houston Texans are ranked fifth and the Pittsburgh Steelers are ninth in the category. So he has shown the ability to do some damage against first-rate competition.

But the question of whether he has returned to form remains. With so many of his rushing yards coming against the Bills and in garbage time against the Texans, it's tough to argue in his favor.

Admittedly, he has looked like a different running back lately, but the skeptic in me needs to see more of the big plays seen during Week 7 to say whether he has truly returned to being the self-proclaimed "Every Coach's Dream."

For now, we've seen far too much of the CJ-24-yards-or-less than of his 2009 self.