Munchak says it is impossible for CJ to measure up to expectations

Monday, October 31, 2011 at 6:30pm

Chris Johnson is in an impossible position.

That’s the way Mike Munchak sees it. That also is why the Tennessee Titans head coach has no plans to move the three-time Pro Bowl running back from his position at the top of the team’s depth chart.

“Expectations are so high, unless we run for 200 [yards] a game there’s going to be people questioning what he’s doing just because he’s paid how he is and he’s perceived to be one of the top backs in the league,” Munchak said Monday afternoon. “So people expect an awful lot from him every time he steps on the field.

“When you come short of that and as a team you struggle, then everyone’s trying to find out what’s wrong. [They think] something must be wrong. There’s nothing wrong with him.”

Munchak continued to answer questions about the running back and the overall running game in the wake of Sunday’s 27-10 victory over the Indianapolis Colts in which Johnson (14 carries, 34 yards) was outperformed by backup Javon Ringer (14 carries, 60 yards).

He maintained, as he did Sunday, that the equal number of rushes for the two was a product of how the game evolved and not of any plans by the coaches to reduce Johnson’s role. Nor was it an indication of what is to come as the team prepares for two opponents in the next three weeks – Cincinnati on Sunday and Atlanta on Nov. 20 – that rank among the NFL’s top 10 in run defense.

“I just played my part,” Ringer, who set career-highs for rushing yards and receiving yards (42), said Sunday following the game. “I know CJ is the guy. CJ knows he’s the guy. The coaches just handled the rotation.”

Johnson, who pursuit of a new contract caused him to skip all of training camp and the preseason, has rushed for more than 53 yards just once in seven games and has averaged better than 3.5 yards per attempt only twice. Those numbers are inconsistent with the four-year, $53.5 million extension he ultimately got given that he averaged 97.8 yards per game and 5.0 per attempt prior to this season.

“He’s working hard, he’s practicing hard, it’s important to him, he wants to win,” Munchak said. “He’s been handling it well. He’s not at all been temperamental about it. He’s handling things very well, like you’d hope he would – like a good teammate. He still has a lot of football to go and I think he’s going to do some great things for us.”

Tennessee remains last in the league in rushing offense at an average of 68.9 yards per game and has just four runs of 20 yards or more, one of which belongs to punter Brett Kern. Over the previous three seasons, the Titans averaged more than one run of 20 yards or longer per game.

Johnson is tied for 15th in attempts but is tied for 34th in yards and does not rank among the top 150 in yards per rush.

“It’s just a situation that I know it’s something we need to get fixed,” Johnson said following the game. “It’s something we have to get going if we want to continue to win and make the playoffs. Our goal is to win the Super Bowl, and if we want to reach our goals, it’s something we have to get fixed.”

Johnson has missed just one game in his career and has started 53 of the 54 in which he has appeared.

Munchak made it clear that will not change anytime soon even as he continues to seek ways to get different results from the run game.

“CJ is our starter,” Munchak said. “You ask Javon, he’ll tell you the same thing. … Nothing’s changed. We don’t feel any different about Chris Johnson. Nothing is changing – our philosophy hasn’t changed; we’re not giving each guy 12 carries or 13 carries or whatever it may be. Next game it could be 20 carries and three carries. Who knows how it’s going to work out?

“We’re going to play who we think gives us the best chance to win. I’m not going to project forward what could or could not happen, but, I mean, we’re going to play the people we think give us the best chance to win.”

14 Comments on this post:

By: dargent7 on 11/1/11 at 6:00

Oh, boy. Here come the excuses. 14 carries for 34 yds.?
No excuse!

By: BigPapa on 11/1/11 at 6:36

I dont think we're all expecting 2000 yards and multiple long 70 yrd TD runs, we're talking 80-100 yrd per game. Just that would help take some heat off the passing game.

By: Jughead on 11/1/11 at 7:08

Buyer's remorse.

I knew he was not worth the money. Can you say BUST?

By: BenDover on 11/1/11 at 7:29

Yeah... try 20 yards a game. Huge mistake.

By: BenDover on 11/1/11 at 7:30

If you can't count on your running back on 3rd and 1 he's useless. Buy a bull.

By: Harleyfxrs01 on 11/1/11 at 7:57

Hey Munchak, all the people are asking for is he does what you foolishly paid him to do and that is all. It is called pay for performance, get it? Nobody is asking him to part the sea, they are just asking for him to do what he as previously done before, run the ball. Im tired of hearing from the sports announcers that "oh he did not have preseason training, he missed out on that" and you supoorting the concept. Well Munchak he missed out on it due to greed. He is a non performer now and you people blew it with adorning him with millions. Well if you really believe what you wrote then I hope your man gets boos all game long, I hope you get boos all game long for supporting him. We are tired of all the excuses.

By: jambenp on 11/1/11 at 8:42

Coach your fans are asking for nothing more than what CJ claimed he could/would produce and was ready to produce as soon as he "saw his money". This is what happens when you tell the fans to FU. (CJ's words again).
The organization needs to realize it got douped into buying a running back that wouldn't show up for training camp because he and his agent realized CJ had lost that burst that made him so valuable. He has either lost it or is not using it. Without that burst CJ is just another undersized back trying to hold on to a roaster spot.
I realize the it is not all CJ. Might I suggest some blocking work this week for not only the O-line but also the receivers down field. When CJ gets the opportunity to breakout he is being stopped because the receivers are not holding blocks down field. If the fans can see it don't you think opposing defenses are all over it.

By: dargent7 on 11/1/11 at 8:54

I've seen this with the Titans before.
Two years ago, maybe three (it's becoming a blur), KC took the team to 8-0.
So, intelligence would say, start him next year too, since VY is a complete cry baby and hose-bag.
Then they go 0-8 with KC. Wasn't one game when it was snowing in NY: 58-0??
89 years young Adams steps in, VY gets lucky, and it's a 8-8 season.
Now, CJ, he's averaging 4 yds. per carry after extorting $53. million with a $30. million guarantee.
But look at the Colts. 0-7 and KC had his chance (last).
My team, the Charges blew last night's game.
Anyone want to be Philip Rivers today in San Diego?

By: David_S on 11/1/11 at 1:42

I'll make it quite simple, Munch. He should rush for more yards a game than millions of dollars in his new contract (56, last I checked). He's only done that once in 7 games this season. Saying "well, we can't meet these high expectations" is a load of crap. It's not all CJ's fault, but part of it is, and he needs to own up and ride the pine pony until he figures that out.

By: Doveplayer on 11/2/11 at 7:51

Big Papa, I agree with you. While it would be nice to see huge numbers, realistically, we need to see huge effort. Less than 40 yards per game does not reflect huge effort on Chris' part. A breakthrough game would be cool, but a couple of 100 plus yard games would go a long way toward relieving fans minds. He got what he wanted, a huge paycheck. Now it's time to prove you were worth it. In other words Chris, prove us wrong.

By: jwk6179 on 11/2/11 at 12:40

When Chris Johnson stated that HE WAS A PLAYMAKER during his hold out durung training camp and that he was in shape when he did finally show the day after the Titans' final Pre-season game, he basically told everyone that he was the SAME GREAT PLAYER that he always has been. He is the one who placed the HIGH EXPECTATIONS on himself, not the FANS!!!!

By: gohomenow on 11/2/11 at 3:06

This whole team needs work, and I don't mean looking to one player to be a Godsend and pull us out of the hole. CJ isn't scoring all of the points that have been scored against us, isn't responsible for all of the off target passes thrown or penalties we've gotten.
We've got a lot of new faces in coaches and players, be patient.

By: courier37027 on 11/4/11 at 5:54

How coincidental that on same week Pacman returns to town, Munchak turns into the same enabler-excuse maker for Chris Johnson that his predecessor Whispering Coach/California Cool was with Adam Jones.

By: courier37027 on 11/4/11 at 5:58

Coach Munchak, with that comment you are an insult to the league shield and your Hall of Fame gold jacket. You and Chris Johnson should take a trip after the season to Canton Ohio. There should be plenty of time; you won't make the playoffs. See how many players enshrined there exceeded expectations, and were duly rewarded by their peers. Could be a good lesson for your runnign back, and a reminder for you. Frank and Mark, cease and desist with the "lunchpail attitude" blather when referring to this coach.