Normally, I'd agree with Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson's assessment of the NFL's exhibition season when he tweets "Lol preseason" in explanation of a lackluster performance -- in this case, the Titans' preseason opener against the Seattle Seahawks, in which Tennessee lost, 27-17, and Johnson gained just 8 yards on five carries against Seattle's first-team defense. More distressing is the fact that Johnson peeled off a 9-yard run, and his four other carries were good for a total of minus-1 yard. LOL or not, that math just doesn't add up.
Johnson, 959 yards worse in 2011 than he was in 2009, is not in a position to LOL at the preseason. Not when opposing defenses spent 2011 ROTFL'ing at him.
He's had too many games like this to just laugh off one more as meaningless, even if it is preseason. In 10 games last year, he averaged fewer than 4 yards a carry. In seven games, he averaged less than 3 yards per carry. In three games, he even dipped below 2 yards per carry.
So no, no Titans fans are laughing when he carries five times for 8 yards in a preseason game against the Seahawks. Johnson has given up his right to LOL at the preseason. He's become a guy who needs the preseason, just like a rookie or any other player who needs to improve. At some point, we'd like to see some kind of indication that Johnson can get back to his 2009 form.
He explained in a little more depth to John Glennon of the Tennessean, but the sentiment was the same.
"It's a thing you go through ... but anytime you play against another team (in the presesason), you don't really game-plan against them or anything like that. You're just going out there basically like another scrimmage."
Well, fine, but so is the defense you're facing. And if you're Johnson, and you're supposed to be a superstar, I wouldn't think that the lack of a game plan would keep you from gaining, say, 2 yards a carry? Three, maybe? Against a basic, vanilla defense? LOL?
The Titans play again on Friday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Johnson will have the opportunity to prove that his legs are back under him. And there is every chance that he'll look like the CJ2K we used to know, rip off 114 yards on eight carries, and then we'll all feel better about laughing at this first preseason game.
I'd like to know that he's capable of that, however, before I laugh off a miserable game that looked way too much like his miserable 2011.
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