The Jets signing Chris Johnson for their backfield comes with a lot of flash. About 5 years ago, he ran for more than 2,000 yards with the Titans, for a blistering 5.6 average per run. And he added 14 TDs as well. He indeed had a pretty amazing season, that left many fans asking about who was the best RB in the league at the time, between him and Adrian Peterson. They picked him up only for a 2 year deal, paying him 8 million. Figure he’s 28 years old, 2 years sounds just about right.
Now with a change of teams, and a new start for him in New York, can he possibly return to his Pro-Bowl form, that many people raved about years ago. Johnson has always been that player who could be a long ball guy, who could take it to the house on any play. He could be their home run threat on the field, firing through the line. When Johnson pounded the ground for his monster season, it was only his second year in the league, and the amazing performance was one of the best single seasons ever for anyone at his position.
Now in New York, he also fits in to help Geno Smith at QB, being that he is a solid receiver as well. And what makes Johnson dangerous is the fact that he is such a dangerous pass-catching RB. He has been grabbing a little over 45 balls out of the backfield per season.
But there are many things going through my head for the Jets this season. The true fact is, they are more than stacked at the running back slot. Chris Ivory is built like a house on his burly and powerful 6 ft 225 lbs frame. He totaled up 833 yards on the ground last season, burrowing through defenses like they were cheese steaks. With an impressive 4.6 avg on the ground. But, he did have injuries that seemed to hound him throughout as well. Many that limited his time on the field. The Jets got by 1530 YDs last season with Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell, as their RBs, combining for a solid 4.3 per carry.
In a way, I think the Jets are hoping for a combination of Johnson and Ivory to take on a Bradshaw and Jacobs role that the Giants had in 2010 When they tore up the league for a combined 2058 YDs and 17 TDs. And again, with his pass catching ability, he could actually line up as a WR as well, or in the slot.
His last year in Tennessee was disastrous, getting buried behind the line of scrimmage almost all the time. Making us ask was his dramatic dip in production due to the knee injury? Or was it his line, or maybe that he isn’t quite the RB that many thought he actually was. Don’t get me wrong, Chris Johnson has great intangibles, he is mobile and is capable of busting off a pretty deep ball, but his power running is weak and he struggles with that tremendously. I’m curious to see how they will work Chris Johnson into their scheme. Johnson definately looks more comfortable when he is able to get to the outside again.
The Jets have been an organization that wallows in a pits of mediocrity. Their front office has been making bad moves and creating issues for seasons upon seasons now. I am sure that Chris Johnson feels confident that the Jets will feed him the ball all season long. And the fact that the OC Marty Mornhinweg likes his style, seems like he will see probably 50% of the carries. I think potentially Johnson can get about 1300 all-purpose YDs, the Jets O-Line is not dominating enough to think can they run the ball strongly 35+ times a game.
I don’t feel he is going to be the man in New York, although he’s athletic and quick, one if his main problems is that he can’t seem to be able to shed tacklers. Plus the fact that the running game has been de-emphasized in the NFL. He isn’t what he thinks he is, in my honest opinion. Numbers don’t lie, changes in scheme is going to be tough, his small size, his speed is only effective is he can get into an open field. I think that he was a good back with incredible speed. He is too small to keep taking the hits week in and week out. At only 195lbs, he keeps taking big hits and struggles to keep coming back.
He has had seasons where he has disappeared, his holdout in 2011, in which he ended up the season with a sad 1047 YDs and 4 TDs. There never has been any legitimate explanation for his falling off the charts, except that he is extremely dependent on his O-line. When he rushed for his massive 2,006 YDs, the Titans offensive line was awesome.
Johnson is an ordinary RB, who had one very special year. In the 5 years since his mega season, he’s averaged only 4.18 yards per carry.