- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter
- 0 Shares
What does that mean for Chris Johnson?
Well, fewer carries.
I’m not sure how Johnson will react to that idea. Fewer carries will probably be better for the team, but it won’t enhance his chances to get to 2,000 yards and that’s his football obsession.
On the radio in Nashville Tuesday I had a chance to ask Greene about how he expects his role will go over with CJ considering Johnson’s love for his yards.
“I haven’t talked to him about that, but seeing him play, I don’t think he needs very many carries,” Green said on 104.5 The Zone. “That guy, he’s a great football player, he’s very explosive and he can be gone with any carry. So I don’t think it’s a matter of carries. He’s very talented. So I think it’s a possibility he could still reach his goals. I’m just here to help the team win football games.”
It was a smart answer from Greene.
Given Johnson’s propensity for predictions, I fully expect him to talk about 2,000 yards yet again when the Titans reassemble. It’s a rite of spring in Tennessee. (He's already said he expects to outrun Adrian Peterson.)
So let’s look at the possibilities for Johnson with Greene on the roster.
Johnson had 358 carries in 2009 when he went for 2,006 yards, and the Titans force-fed him down the stretch.
The Titans had 378 total carries last season and 376 the year before. The most carries another Titans running back has had in those two seasons was just 59 -- by Javon Ringer in 2011.
Greene didn’t get a $2.5 million signing bonus and a three-year contract to carry the ball only 16 percent of the time the way Ringer did that season.
So let’s give Tennessee's new back 20 percent of a 377-carry season. That’s 75. Speedy quarterback Jake Locker ran nearly four times per game in his starts. Conservatively, let’s say a healthy Locker averages three runs a game for 48 total rushing attempts.
That’s 123 carries for Green and Locker, leaving 254 for Johnson if no one else gets any.
He’d have to average more than 7.8 yards per carry to get to 2,000.
Johnson averaged a career-best 5.6 yards per carry in 2009.
The highest non-quarterback rushing averages in NFL history belong to Beattie Feathers (8.4 on 119 attempts for Chicago in 1934), Skeet Quinlan (7.3 on 97 carries for the Rams in 1953), Lenny Moore (7.0 on 92 carries for Baltimore in 1961) and Hugh McElhenny (7.0 on 98 carries for San Francisco in 1952).
Like I’ve said, CJ2K 2.0 is not happening in 2013.
While the Tennessee Titans believe Shonn Greene can do more, if all goes well in 2013 he will be a niche back with an important niche: convert crucial short-yardage situations.