Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams understands Chris Johnson's plight.
Like CJ, Williams got a big contract in the off-season (albeit without a holdout like Johnson did), and sees how the expectations have changed for him since he signed his $43 million extension with $21 million guaranteed.
Johnson got a $53 million extension from Tennessee with $30 million guaranteed over the first three years and has been a disappointment in productivity thus far since rejoining the Titans.
“Oh, yeah. With more money comes more responsibility. They expect you to come out and do things that you've never done before in your life,” Williams said. “They want you to come out and basically be on the field by yourself and score every time you touch the ball, or pick up a first down. What they fail to realize is the other people get paid too. It's not necessarily whether you get the ball or not. There are other variables in that, the scheme.”
Johnson agrees, saying he knows of the heightened and often unrealistic expectations that have come with his new contract.
“Any time you get paid a big contract or hold out or anything like that, when you get back, they're going to expect a lot out of you," Johnson said. "That's just something that comes along with the contract and kind of being the face of the team. Everything comes along with it – even fans booing you and things like that. It comes along with the territory, and it's a situation where you can't let it get to you.”
Both Williams and Johnson have found the yards harder to come by. Williams has 363 yards on 75 carries thus far this season, while CJ has three more yards at 366 but has needed 121 carries to get there.
Williams said fantasy football has made fans look at expectations on players differently.
“I think fantasy football has played a part in that. Before fantasy football, people used to watch the games and be happy that they get a chance to see their teams play,” Williams said. “But now, not only are they watching the game to see their team play, but they have a little bit riding on it, and they have bragging rights based on the fantasy football. They have playing in the background.”
Williams and Johnson are friends, and Williams said he doesn't believe CJ is letting the criticism get to him.
“I know CJ. We've talked on the phone a few times and CJ is not gonna let that bother him. It's a love-hate relationship. They love you when you're doing good and they hate you when you're doing bad,” Williams said.