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Tennessee Titans: A Running Game You Say?

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Jake Locker hands the football to teammate Jackie Battle, who's contributing to the Titans fledgling rushing attack this season. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images.
Jake Locker hands the football to teammate Jackie Battle, who's contributing to the Titans fledgling rushing attack this season. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images.

The Tennessee Titans are trying to be the exception. In an era where quarterbacks run the NFL, the Titans resist to fall into the norm – whether that be on purpose or by accident isn’t of importance. Nevertheless, it’s pretty evident that if the Titans are going to achieve any type of success this season, it will be through a productive running game.

Through two games, the Titans rank ninth in the NFL in total rushing offense -- that against two of the toughest defenses in the league (Houston, Pittsburgh). Even though they are only 1-1 after those two games, the Titans front office is probably patting each other on the back, thinking “so far, so good.”

They should be.

THE NUMBERS

231: Tennessee has rushed for 231 yards this season (2 games), good enough for ninth in the league.

3.1: However, they are only averaging 3.1 yards per carry. That should be something to monitor going forward. It could be the two tough defenses they just faced, but still, that number isn’t the best.

6: Chris Johnson is ranked sixth in the NFL with 166 yards through two games.

16: The Titans longest gain on a rush this season. Johnson has yet to break a big run off and is only averaging 3.3 yards per carry, just. 0.2 yards per carry above the team average.

4: Shonn Greene has carried the ball four times this season. He was supposed to be the pound to Johnson’s ground – or something like that – but if he isn’t ever healthy, he can’t.

75: The Titans lead the league in rushing attempts after week two, with 75.

THE CAST

THE ACE: Chris Johnson – 166 yards, 50 attempts, 3.3 average

Not the hottest of starts for Johnson, but against the Houston Texans he did finish with 96 yards – that’s a good sign.

THE POUND: Shonn Greene – 18 yards, 4 attempts, 4.5 average

Greene, easily, has the best per carry average on the team, but he’s injured. Greene just had arthroscopic knee surgery and will likely miss two more weeks. When he does return, it’ll be interesting to see if he can keep that per carry average that high. If he can, the ground and pound will be back in business.

THE FILLER: Jackie Battle – 34 yards, 14 attempts, 2.4 average

Battle is exactly that. He’s currently filling for Greene. He has a similar running style to Greene, so it works. Battle runs hard, but doesn’t always get the result. The good thing about Battle is that you’re always going to get his best. Whether that is good enough remains to be seen, but for the time being, he’ll do until Greene returns.

THE QUESTION

Can the Titans remain on this rushing pace, or even improve it? If they can, they’ll continue to put victories together. Running the football drains the clock and allows you to control the tempo. Tennessee doesn’t want a fast-paced game; they’re not built for it.

However, Johnson does need to be more productive, which I predict he will. He needs to raise that yards per carry mark and rack up a few 100-yard game performances in order to get the Titans where they want to go this season.

Even though their rushing attack has been above average, there are still questions. They should be answered in the next few weeks.

THE VERDICT

It’s still too early to decide how this Titans season is going to turn out, but their running game has shown promise. It hasn’t been great, just good. If they want to continue to be one of the nice surprises in the NFL, they need to get their running game to that great status.

What will do that? More Johnson. In particular, some vintage CJ2K runs.  The moment Johnson hits his strides, so do the Titans and their running game.