Tennessee Titans enigmatic running back Chris Johnson has blamed the offensive line before, and he did it again this offseason.
Here is exactly what Johnson said as he vented his frustrations to the NFL Network, ”What a lot of people don’t understand, I was playing with an offensive line that only had one starter. I had four offensive linemen hurt. I felt like I did good with the situation I was dealt.”
But wait, there’s more. He actually did knock the line in a not-so-subtle way, so maybe Johnson isn’t just nitpicking at the injuries. Here is the rest of his comment, ”I had to cross over some hurdles, but I never sat there and made excuses. I just dealt with whatever was given to me and just played with it. At the end of the day, if you look at the teams in the playoffs and the teams in the Super Bowl, you look at those guys offensive and defensive linemen, the game is really won in the trenches,” he said. “If you ain’t strong there, I don’t care how many playmakers you have. It ain’t gonna work.”
Johnson had a somewhat disappointing season in 2012, and I am using the word “somewhat” because I think some of Johnson’s expectations are a bit unrealistic. He still rushed for over 1,200 yards and additionally put up 36 receptions for the offense, and he did so whilst averaging a solid enough 4.5 yards per carry.
I do think Johnson is right in his criticism of the offensive line, with the larger point being a lack of health on the line. But most people will continue to be rubbed the wrong way by Johnson’s lack of self-accountability, and mostly the fact that this is an issue that should be kept with a closed-lid. Even if it is right, it is his duty as a teammate not to say anything. Unfortunately, Johnson hasn’t gotten the memo that it’s his duty as a player.
The Tennessee Titans have a terrible interior offensive line that still needs work, and Leroy Harris and Fernando Velasco are set to hit free agency. Harris is a weak link and definitely expendable, but Velasco was an important piece of the line and held things together at center. A better run blocker than pass blocker, the Titans need to keep Velasco on the squad since he is clearly their best interior offensive lineman. The Titans have a great tackle duo, but they need a lot of work at the guard spots and should consider building some more depth as well.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter for more NFL updates @SorianoJoe.