The Titans running game has been a huge letdown this year. After spending millions and multiple draft picks (including a 1st) on the offensive line, play has barely improved from last year's nightmare. The kicker is that this line has stayed relatively healthy, and for whatever reason has failed to produce for the running backs in the run game, and hasn't shined in pass pro either. The result has been a down year in Tennessee for the running backs. With that aside, here's how the roster looks as of today:
The artist formerly known as CJ2K has been one of the biggest disappointments of the season. While he has had to deal with a great deal of less-than-stellar run blocking, CJ has failed to make it count on the times he has been sprung loose more often than not. He has been very productive in the passing game when given the chance, but far too often this is mixed in with a rushing YPC under 3.00. I by no means place the majority of the blame on CJ's shoulders, but the criticisms are warranted. With a monster salary in 2014 that far outweighs production, expect CJ's contract to be seriously re-worked, or the back to be released.
No doubt everyone in Tennessee expected more out of this run game, but they have had very little chance to shine behind the porous line, and things don't seem to be improving in a hurry (or even going in the right direction). Greene's YPC equals that of CJ, but he has been a more consistent runner when he gets him number called. That said, injury derailed his season early on and he has hardly matched up to expectations in production. I feel like he will be in the mix as a short yardage back again next year with CJ gone.
Jackie Battle was a great signing at the last minute before the season started. He immediately filled in when Greene went down with an injury in the season opener, and proved to be a hard-nosed, hard-to-tackle runner. He is not without flaws however, proved by a missed read on a crucial fourth down in Kansas City. Beyond his skills as a backup RB, Battle has proven very helpful on special teams, with a good kickoff return, a block that sprung Leon Washington for a 95 yard return, and a hit that forced Fitzgerald to lose the ball on an onside kick in last week's final minutes of regulation. I for one, hope Battle is back next year.
Washington has been a god-send at a position of dire need in Tennessee. After enduring a nightmarish mix of Reynaud, Wylie, etc, Washington has stepped in and provided solidity at the KR/PR position and helped the team drastically improve it's average field position. I would like to see Webster sign Washington back next year if a deal can't be reached with Marc Mariani, and maybe so even if they can. Mariani has health concerns after not really playing for 2 straight years. It would be worth keeping a proven guy like Leon around.
I would like to see the Titans bring back Washington and Battle, as both are talented guys who can step in if needed , and double as useful special teams players. I would also like to see the team draft a guy in the later rounds who can help ease the transition should the team not bring CJ back to town as expected. While this team has a pretty poor record of drafting running backs, Webster hasn't had much of a shot at it just yet, so we'll see how it plays out. Long story short, until this offensive line is fixed, this aspect of the Titans offense is going nowhere fast.