Michael Saenz

Why Chris Johnson Will Dominate This Season

Created on Aug. 22, 2013 6:00 AM EST

A few years ago, Chris Johnson was considered the best running back in the National Football League. Johnson still believes that, and by the end of this season we will be re-thinking that premise too... not because of what Adrian Peterson or Arian Foster don't do, but because of how good Johnson will be this season. 

I'm not saying he's going to rush for 2,000-plus yards again -- I'm also not saying that he won't -- but he will be better. He has to. And finally, the Titans front office has put the tools around Johnson that will get him going, once again.

The first thing Tennessee needed to do was re-vamping of that offensive line -- check. 

During free agency, the Titans inked the top guard in the market in Andy Levitre to a six-year, $46.8 million deal. A month later, in the draft, they used their 10th overall draft pick and selected Alabama guard Chance Warmack. That duo shores up the interior of that Titans offensive line, which was a glaring weakness last season.

Through two games in preseason, the offensive line, as a whole, has performed quite well. The duo of Johnson and newly-aquired Shonn Greene has rushed for 145 yards on 20 carries, in two games. Yes, defenses don't game plan during preseason, but those are some really nice numbers that shouldn't be overlooked. 

As I have already mentioned, another facet in getting Johnson back to CJ2K caliber, is keeping the 27-year-old running back fresh. That's where the Titans did right in signing Greene and Jackie Battle as backups.

Keeping Johnson fresh – check.

The third variable is a bit difficult and complicated. Of course, that’s Jake Locker. In order to solidify a strong running game, a team needs to have a passing threat to keep the defense from clogging the box. That’s where Locker comes in.

Locker will need to show some level of consistency in his ability to stretch the field vertically. That would then open a few extra holes inside for Johnson to find on his journey back to elite back status.

In Locker’s defense, you can make the argument that this season will be his first year in which he will have a significantly better supporting cast around him, than what he’s been dealt in the past. He will have a healthy and rejuvenated Johnson, Greene, Nate Washington, a healthy Kenny Britt, and two solid young receivers in Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter.

Locker is in position to have his best season of his career, at the same time, it’s also on him to help Johnson get back to his original elite status.

We aren’t in position to be able to “check” Locker yet.

The final variable in Johnson’s resurgence is simple, and at the end of the day, it’s the only one that really matters.

Is Johnson up for it – check?

There’s no question that Johnson has put in the work this offseason. Talk to anyone that’s been present at camp, they’ll say he has a different look this season. He’s ready to go. If you still had any concerns when preseason began, he quickly ended them on his second play from scrimmage against the Washington Redskins in the first exhibition game – with a 58-yard CJ2K-esque touchdown run.

The Titans are making a concerted effort in trying to get back to their old hard-nose run-first offensive philosophy. They made all the right moves in the offseason and have shown glimpses of potential in the early stages of preseason.

Everything is set up for Johnson to have a career year. It’s now all on him. There’s no reason to believe why he won’t deliver.

CJ2K is back. 

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