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2010 Tennessee Titans Position Group Review: Running Backs

If there's one thing you could pretty much always count on saying at the end of a Titans season while Jeff Fisher was the coach, it's that the running backs had a pretty good year. The bar was set freakishly high after Chris Johnson's 2009 season, where he smashed the totals yards from scrimmage record and topped 2,000 yards. 2010 wasn't full of the whirlwind, huge plays we saw last year, but there was still a whole hell of a lot to like once you look a little closer.

Chris Johnson: CJ will make-up about 90% of this review because he gets about 90% of the offensive touches. CJ ended the season with 316 rushing attempts, 1,364 yards and a 4.3 yards per carry average (last year he went 358/2006/5.6). Probably the biggest drop-off for CJ was the number of big plays: he went from 22 runs of 20 yards or more to 13. When you think about how much those plays mean in an offense that has suffered from inconsistency at the QB position just in terms of creating a spark and forcing defenses to adjust, it was a sorely missed aspect of our offense. The reasons for that drop-off have been the subject of debate and speculation all season. CJ stated after the final game that he was slowed down by a deep thigh injury early in the season, but he looked slower from jump. What's worse, he got hit hard and often, which he'd been masterful at avoiding his first two seasons. He came into camp with a little extra muscle weight from his off-season training regiment, and I hope he realizes now that the best thing he can do is loose it. CJ and his coaches must accept the fact that he's not going to be an all-around guy like Emmitt Smith, and make the most out of what he does well: follow good blocking and run fast as shit.

One spot where CJ is being beyond wasted is in the passing game. That's a hell of a thing to say about a guy who led the team in receptions with 44, but his 5.6 yards per catch was the worst of anyone to catch a pass for the Titans this year. He pretty much only gets the ball in the flat, where teams aren't stupid enough to leave him uncovered, or standing where the center used to be. Nothing creative, and its just pointless hits for him to take. CJ has the moves and the hands to do serious damage in a scheme that utilizes screen plays, but we haven't seen that at all. It's a tough thing to analyze from the outside, but the problem could have had nothing to do with CJ: the screen game requires great timing between the QB and the O-line, along with consistent precision on short passes from the QB. Among the many things we haven't had out of the QB position lately is accuracy on short passes.

We're going to see some different things out of this offense next year; certainly because of the coaching shake-ups, and hopefully because of personnel changes in the middle of the o-line. One thing I'd really like to see is CJ and the entire o-line around for all of the voluntary activities. They need to get back some rhythm, and familiarity is the only way it's going to happen.

Javon Ringer: Did you almost forget about Ringer? So did his coaches, apparently. After looking like a stud in the preseason, Ringer saw only 51 rushing attempts all season. Where he did get a lot of reps was as a pass blocker. By the end of the season he'd established himself as more of a 3rd down blocker than anything else. It's a damned shame too, because he's done pretty well in the few chances he's been given so far.

Ahmard Hall: The Sarge put up another solid season, though he didn't have the crushing impact we've seen him have in the past. He showed nice hands and made a few plays in the passing game, but it's blocking where he makes his money. Unfortunately even the best FBs in the game can't make-up for occasionally horrendous o-line play, and that really marred Hall's 2010 season.