Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
CJ needs a good backup or at least something better than what they have behind him right now.
So with most of us watching the combine, or at least tuning into what coach Munch and GM Webster have to say; it's say to say we're in full offseason mode. I know most of us are looking at O-line help or all around defensive help in FA or the draft, but I think we need to look at something that is a glaring problem for the Titans. That being the lack of depth behind Chris Johnson.
I know some people have the idea that if he's being payed 10 million a year then he should be earning that money, by always being on the field. That's a valid point, same goes for the Offensive line criticism. You can't have a good RB if you have a piss-poor O-line, which sadly we have. So of course the Titans should upgrade the O-line and they have made it clear they are going to through FA and the draft. With all that being said, CJ should have some sort of RB situation to spell him and not make him carry the whole load.
I like Javon Ringer. I was a pretty big fan of his at Michigan State, and was a Heisman hopeful before injuries started piling up in college and this past season's injuries. Jamie Harper is a load and he's almost like LenDale White without the off field baggage, but he's also having durability issues and not living up to potential. Darius Reynard is a weapon on special teams and could be a weapon on offenses if used correctly, but until then he's a special teams guy. With all that being said the Titans should look at upgrading the back-up RB position, because none of those guys are a proper safety blanket if CJ goes down with an injury or his performance really drops off.
Now the RB position has changed with the league becoming a more vertical league. No longer are the days of Eddie George where 30 carries a game were the norm around the league. The 3rd down/backup RB are just as important as the starter themselves. Look at San Fran and Baltimore, both have great starter in Gore and Rice, but there backups are just as suitable and important. LaMichael James was very pivotal, coming in for the aging starter for San Fran. Rice also had to spelled out at times by Bernard Pierce, who in all honesty could be a starter also. Now some of you will say, "hey those guys have the best offensive lines in football also", which is very true, but having a serviceable backup RB is crucial.
Look at the FA market, where some great value backs are. Felix Jones is looking to get a job somewhere, he has some durability issues, but is almost like a poor man's CJ. He was beaten, bruised, and misused in Dallas, but he could be a cheap pickup. Shonn Greene could be available and will probably be available. A lot of people don't view him as a starter, but he could be a great backup. When he was splitting carries with an aging LaDanian Tomlinson people were screaming for him to be the starter, but carrying the full load broke him down. He could be a perfect fit as a backup. Now I think Ahmad Bradshaw will get a starting job somewhere else (Jets, Steelers, Packers or even be part of 10 RB's in New England), but he's starting to break down also. Getting the majority of the load, broke him and David Wilson transitioned into the starter. He could be a saving grace to CJ and vise-verse. Other guys like Tim Hightower or Peyton Hillis, guys looking for one more shot, would be a good fit for the Titans.
The draft itself doesn't have that once in a lifetime player at the RB position, and teams aren't looking to draft one early. Which means the Titans could get a steal or a great value player in the mid to later round. The Titans more than likely will be drafting O-line or Defensive help in the first 2-3 rounds, but the possibility of a good running back in 3rd or 4th round would be perfect. Eddie Lacey from Alabama will be drafted in the late first or second round. After that who know's where any of the remaining backs are going. Two backs I would be ecstatic for the Titans to draft with one in the 3rd or 4th would be Wisconsin workhorse Monte Ball or Oregon RB Kenjon Barner. Both are explosive (Barner a tad more with the offense he was in), but Ball could be a perfect fit for spelling CJ. Most draft expert's don't see either going in the first 3 rounds so they could even be there at 4. The biggest red-flagged, but most reward for risk would be Marcus Lattimore. I know some people roll their eyes, but hear me out. Injured both knees and missed both Junior and Senior season, still I say take a chance. Frank Gore was chronically injured in college and Willis McGahee had a horrific injury in the championship game (trust me I saw it, I'm a buckeye fan), both those guys sure did turn out alright. Arian Foster wasn't the cleanest bill of health in college or his first years, but both have done quite well. Lattimore could be that guy, and he has a nose for the goal-line. Hometown guy Zac Stacy could be a perfect fit also. He did quite well with a Vandy O-line, who are greatly under-rated bunch, but hey it's Vanderbilt (sorry, beat a top SEC program like Florida or Georgia then will talk about how great they are. Sorry I'm a pessimist). Still Zac would be great, he's another touchdown hawk, who's played in the SEC. There are others available in the draft as wee.
Point being if were talking about upgrading every position, then backup RB is something that needs to be addressed. If you wanna surround your play makers to help them be more successful, then you gotta create competition. Not only that, you could get another play maker in the process.
Should The Titans Draft or Acquire a Running Back to Help CJ.
Yes, in Free Agency (44 votes)
Yes, early in the Draft (10 votes)
Yes, late in the Draft or unrestricted rookie free agent (62 votes)
No, re-sign Ringer and Raynard (4 votes)
120 total votes