Is Titans RB Chris Johnson actually underrated?

Stephen Dunn

A poor win-loss record and a bad offensive line has hurt Chris Johnson's reputation, but is a new OL going to change that?

Chris Johnson has been torn down by the media and fans alike, but all the negativity is unwarranted.

CJ's numbers don't lie. Over the past three years with a just-plain-bad offensive line (except of course for the offensive tackles) he has had:

-3,654 rushing yards (an average of 1,218 per year)

- Averaged 4.27 yards per carry

-Rushed for 20+ yards 32 times

-Rushed for 40+ eight times

Those numbers are remarkable, especially behind players who are now backups for teams with awful lines or are jobless.

Now people that don't agree will say that CJ played scared and fell too early too often, but when you are forced to make cuts behind the line of scrimmage on MOST plays I imagine that it is hard to make people miss. Further more to ask a slight running back to take a hit head on from a player twice his size for a 1-2 foot difference in ball placement isn't reasonable.

It isn't that he isn't motivated, when the offensive line actually provided him with gaps to run through he was very good. He played shifty and tough despite his size and still beat everyone but some of the quicker defensive backs to the edge.

Behind this new offensive line in a scheme that allows him to be patient and find the hole (one of his strong suits) Chris Johnson looks poised to have a truly spectacular year in 2013. I expect a lot of outside runs to turn into cutbacks once the dominant interior combination of Levitre-Schwenke/Velasco-Warmack creates gaps like CJ hasn't seen in three years. And if CJ can reestablish his lightning quick cut back, then it will be game over for linebackers and (most) defensive backs.

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