NFL’s Biggest Dissapointment in 2011

As originally posted here.

The most disappointing NFL player of 2011 and the current bane of many fantasy leagues is Tennessee Titans’ running back Chris Johnson.

While there are many noteworthy selections from the Eagles Michael Vick or Bucs Josh Freeman, Johnson’s selection is of particular interest because since his first round draft status in 2008, no. 24 overall, he has been a perennial Pro-Bowl selection his entire short career.

In his best year in 2009, Johnson became a first-team All-Pro selection. He also won the AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year, NFL Alumni Running Back of the Year, FedEx Ground Player of the Year and became NFL Rushing Champion running for 2,006 yards and totaled an NFL record 2,509 all-purpose yards in a single season.

Prior to the 2011 season, Johnson initially started to no-show summer training camp pending contract negotiations. Johnson felt he was underpaid given his current conditions being set to make $1.065 million in 2011. The Titans came to terms on Sept. 1 making Johnson, the highest paid running back with a four-year $53.5 million contract extension, including a $30 million guaranteed.

The holdout might have ended up costing Johnson the invaluable time to get acclimated to Titan head coach Mike Munchak and offensive coordinator Chris Palmer’s new system.

The Titans are currently in second place at 7-6 in the AFC South and in the hunt for a wildcard berth, which is more than what could be said about the team this time last year at 5-8 before finishing up at 6-10.

In Johnson’s first three years in the league, he averaged 1533 yards in 308 carries for 11 touchdowns per season. Fifteen weeks into this season, Johnson managed 875 yards rushing in about two-thirds the carries (217) and 4 touchdowns. He presence receiving from the backfield hasn’t changed much with 45 catches for 315, compared to earlier seasons, an average of 46 catches for 336 yards. He has yet to score a receiving touchdown this year.

Johnson’s production has been paltry this season only topping 100 rushing yards four times this season. His near 200-yard rushing performance (190 yards) came against a Buccaneer team riddled with injuries and quickly heading toward a downward spiral to the point where ESPN’s Pat Yasinskas is calling them the “fifth best team in Florida” behind the Dolphins, Jaguars and a pair of high school teams (I guess he doesn’t count college teams?). He failed to top 50 yards in rushing through six games, including matchups against the Jaguars, Broncos, Texans, Colts, Falcons and Saints. He also was not teasing 100 yards against the likes of the Ravens (53 yards on 24 carries), Steelers (51 yards on 14 carries), and Bengals (64 yards on 14 carries).

He only scored touchdowns against three teams this season–one against the Steelers and Panthers and two against the Bills.

Johnson still has a chance to break 1000 yards in his remaining three games, but it hardly justifies his current contract as “the top dog” of running backs. The Titans rank 30th in the league in rushing. If the Titans are going to make the playoffs, they are going to need a lot of help from other teams and a lot better production from Johnson.

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About Tom

Tom Chang is a freelance journalist with a background in multimedia journalism and web publishing. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Journalism and Media Studies from the University of South Florida St.Petersburg. He graduated in 2004 with a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communications at USF Tampa. Tom's interests include a little bit of everything from entertainment to sports. He also wishes to delve into creative writing writing sci-fi/fantasy stories. Tom was recently the Online Editor for USF St. Petersburg's the Crow's Nest, he joined the staff in January 2010 where he started freelance writing, photographing, copy editing and later became a staff writer. Tom’s freelance experience in journalism amassed a wide range of companies including Creative Loafing, The Focus Magazine, Lutz News, Examiner.com, and Tampa Tribune.
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