Chris Johnson managed to get to the 1,000-yard plateau for the fourth time in as many seasons, but the running back's total of 1,047 yards was quite a disappointment compared to his previous three years when 1,228 yards in his rookie season was his lowest total.
On Monday in his season wrap-up, Mike Munchak conceded that perhaps Johnson has lost a step from when he first entered the NFL with the 4.24 speed in the 40-yard dash. But he said that is typical after four years of carries as an NFL running back.
“You would think in your fourth year, he came out of one game in four years for injury which is amazing that he was able to do that. He set the standard that was so high because of the 2,000 yards and the average yards per carry that he had in his first two years that expectations were huge,” Munchak said. “The numbers weren’t what we all thought that they would be, we know that they are going to start declining at some time. Is he a step slower? Yeah, I’m sure he is. I don’t know how you would measure that exactly but I’m sure he has. When you carry the ball as many times as he has for four years and not missed one game, you are going to slow down a little bit just from body soreness.”
Johnson held out and missed all of training camp on top of the lockout before agreeing to a $53.5 million contract extension in early September.
He reported to the team but rarely looked like the running back the Titans had seen in the first three seasons of his career.
“On the field, would we want him to be more productive? That is just not on him that is on the guys around him. We all wished he had rushed for 1,500 yards this year, believe me,” Munchak said. “Another 500 would have been nice. I think he had 1,500 totals yards with run and pass completions, which is still a productive season for a back and again he didn’t miss a game, played every game that we had. There were a lot of pluses there, but just not the numbers. Again we have been saying this all year; it is not just about him.”
Part of the blame, according to Munchak, also rested with the offensive line, the rest of the offense and even the play-calling in causing Johnson not to be as productive.
Munchak is hopeful that a full off-season of work with Johnson here taking part will help remedy some of the problem.
“I hope that when we do get started, which is not until April or May, that Chris along with everyone else will be here too,” Munchak said. “The only way to get better is to have everybody here. That is what we hope happens when we start working that he is here.”
Chances are, Johnson will be present for all off-season work since there is a workout bonus written into the extension he signed.