Move has serious implications for Johnson, Jets and Titans
Chris Johnson, longtime running back for the Tennessee Titans, was released by the team after six seasons with the organization. Lack of production, along with expensive contract demands, prompted the Titans to part ways with Johnson. He has rushed for 1,000 yards in every season since he entered the league in 2008.
It didn’t take long for him to find a new home, however, as Johnson signed with the New York Jets on April 16, shortly after being released.
The Titans saw Johnson as a “home run hitter,” meaning that he was always looking for a big play. He held an NFL record for the most 80-plus yard touchdown runs, but he also leads the league in most plays that resulted in no gain and in 2 yard or less gains.
Tennessee is looking for more of a bruiser at running back now. They will now peruse, either through free agency or the draft, the type of player that can run between the tackles and establish some consistency in the backfield. Chris Johnson is simply not that kind of running back, especially now that he is moving towards the tail end of his career at 29 years old. His style of running simply does not fit into the philosophy that the new coaching staff headed by Ken Whisenhunt is trying to bring to Tennessee.
However, he seems to fit perfectly into the system already in place with the New York Jets.
The Jets already have some depth at running back with Chris Ivory and Balil Powell, so instead of being a feature running back like he was in Tennessee, he will likely be a situational back that is involved in a rotation with the other two backs. This will give him the ability to focus solely on the big yardage plays and use the breakaway speed he was so famous for in the early stages of his career.
He will now be an important piece of the offense and not the sole weapon of the offense, which at his age and with his running style, should be a welcome change of pace.
Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and quarterbacks Geno Smith and Michael Vick will now have a talented, proven weapon at their disposal. A team that had virtually no weapons on offense is starting to look like a potential playoff contender with additions like Eric Decker, Vick and now Johnson.
Either Vick or Smith will have reliable backs that they can hand the ball off to, creating a balanced offensive scheme that will force the safeties down in order to set up the pass. It is also possible that the Jets could incorporate the popular read option, which speedsters like Smith, Vick and Johnson are well-suited to and could make for a deadly combination.
All these signs suggest that Johnson could revive his career in New York. He has all the pieces that he needs to have a great first year with his new team. He has a solid, veteran quarterback in Vick (if he is named the starter), or a talented, athletic arm with Smith. He also has other backs that can rotate with him to take some of the wear and tear off his body. Additionally, his team has a good defense that can get the offense the ball back quickly.
With all these other pieces around him, we could see “CJ1K” become “CJ2K” once again, electrifying the New York Jets’ offense with his famous speed.