Chris Johnson admits his performance isn't perfect, but he absolved himself from blame in the Tennessee Titans woeful running game on Thursday.
Johnson has just 21 yards on 19 carries, and isn't even the Titans leading rusher at this point – that “honor” belongs to quarterback Jake Locker.
“Even when I went for 2,000, I didn't think I was perfect, but I wouldn't sit here and say I'm to blame. I'm only gonna be as good as my line is going to be. We've got to work together and get better,” Johnson said.
While Johnson says he and the struggling offensive line have to get on the same page execution-wise in order to make things work, but said he is the target of criticism because he held out last year to get a $53 million extension. The Titans will be on the hook for $9 million in guaranteed base salary next season if Johnson is on the roster for the fifth day of the league year after waiver process starts.
“I'm the highest paid guy on this team, so of course, I get the criticism. But it's something I don't let get me down,” Johnson said.
Johnson said he hasn't seen very many missed opportunities in terms of running plays when watching the tape.
Titans coach Mike Munchak wouldn't get into who is to blame, but said everyone has a stake in the running game problems the team has had.
“It's an on-going question and we're going to have to let it play out the next couple of weeks to see how we do,” Munchak said. “Everyone is obviously responsible on offense, from the play caller to the quarterback, who may be getting us in and out of a play, running the play into a bad look, to the blocking. It's a team effort when things are not going well. If it was one thing, we'd make an adjustment to that one thing. We're just gonna have to plow ahead this weekend, and hopefully, we'll get a lot more opportunities than eight to hand the ball off.”
There won't be any lineup changes with Johnson or the line for now, with Munchak reasoning that eight carries like he got last week in San Diego is probably not enough for CJ or the line to get in a rhythm.
Munchak said it is not right to think that Johnson is the same running back he was in 2008 when he came into the league, because of all the hits he, or any running back, takes over a period of time.
“I don't see anything that would say he is different. As a running back from getting hit as many times as he has, he's not gonna be the same back that came in here five years ago, just like any position,” Munchak said. “You take that many hits at running back and he hasn't missed game because of injury, other than the ankle in the one playoff game. Has it affected his body, sure, but I don't think that's an excuse as to why we're not running the ball well.”