Never being afraid to sound a sour note, one of my concerns about Chris Johnson ever since his first big preseason performance against the Rams has been whether or not he can run the ball with consistent success. He's a boom-and-bust type runner and, as I wrote the week after that Rams preseason game, when boom-and-bust runners don't go boom enough, they're not very valuable.
Those of you who've purchased Football Outsiders Almanac 2010 (now available on Amazon!) may have noticed a nifty table showing the 10 teams since 1996 with the most Open Field Yards, the average yards per carry by a running back on gains beyond 10 yards. The other 9 teams on that list saw their Open Field Yards decline by at least 0.4 yards per carry and by an average of 0.65 yards per carry. Basically, expect CJ to go boom less often in 2009 than he did in 2010.
If CJ does go boom less often, he needs to have that more consistent success. And, one point in common between 2008 and 2009, was that he didn't have consistent success. Using Success Rate, which measures how often a running back to 40% of the needed yardage on first down, 60% of the needed yardage on second down, and 100% on third and fourth down, Johnson ranked 34th of 49 running backs in 2008 and 32nd of 50 in 2009. During 2008, though, I wrote that his low ranking compared to White (who finished 2008 4th of 49) was misleading because of the distribution of carries, and thought it was a good time to carry that analysis through for the rest of 2008 and also look at 2009.
As Andrew mentioned, it's good to see Chris Johnson and the Titans reached at least a compromise solution, and CJ2K will be in camp when it opens at the end of this month.
The details of the deal are starting to emerge a bit, as Andrew Brandt of NFP wrote this morning about the 2012 incentives CJ has reached based on his performance the first two years. In that piece, Brandt speculated a potential deal would be based on the $1.25 million CJ has reached, plus a more to bump him over $2 million in total compensation for this year.
Since then, though, PFT has reported that Brandt's speculation was wrong. In fact, CJ's contract bump was merely moving forward the $1.25 million he has already earned from 2012 to this year. Between that $1.25 million, reportedly paid as a signing bonus, and his $550,000 base salary, CJ will make $1.8 million in total compensation this year. That's a far cry from the $30-40 million in guaranteed money he said he was looking for, but still not quite chicken feed.
"It's a tough job, but someone's gotta do it."
This quote aptly describes the life and times of the gladiators who play the fullback position. Unable to bask in the glory of the accolades often extended to the other "sexier" positions on offense, a fullback's unenviable task is centered upon lowering his head while attempting to seek-and-destroy anything that comes in his vicinity as he honorably tries to fulfill his duties of protection.
Now that I've attempted to define what the position is mostly about, let's take a look at how the Tennessee Titans stack up at FB.
Readers of ESPN Insider and Paul Kuharsky's AFC South blog (see also the chat and mailbag) learned this week that Football Outsiders ranked Titans DE Jacob Ford as the second-best prospect in the league, where "prospect" includes highly-drafted recent players who haven't yet become starters. As I believe I've mentioned here in the past, and as I wrote in the Titans' section of Football Outsiders Almanac 2010, Ford seems to me, and also seems to be in the eyes of the Titans' brass, as a pass rush specialist who isn't really a complete defensive end. And, under Jeff Fisher, players who aren't good at run defense tend to see their time on the field limited.
To try to get somewhere on why Ford ranks so high on the list of top prospects, and what it's reasonable to expect from him in 2010, I thought I'd try to look in some more detail about Ford's career and what the FO numbers say him.
The first installment of this year's series of pre-training camp positional analyses focused upon the running back position, where predictably, the conversation centered upon the availability of Chris Johnson as he and the Titans attempt to reach a compromise regarding his contract.
Today, we'll take a look at how the Tennessee Titans stack up at wide receiver.
With a solid mix of veterans and talented youngsters vying for playing time and roster spots, WR should be the home to some of training camp's most competitive battles.