The offseason is filled with hyperbole, but I wonder if New York Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg has won the award for the most hyperbolic statement thus far for his praise of new running back Chris Johnson. While Johnson is a very good player who has never run for less than 1,000 yards in a season in his six-year career and famously eclipsed the 2,000-yard mark to earn his nickname, Mornhinweg went a bit overboard with his praise.
According to ESPN New York’s Rich Cimini, Mornhinweg called CJ1K a “first-ballot Hall of Famer”. Former Jets legend and actual HOFer Curtis Martin stated that Johnson has “as much talent as anyone in the league”, which was once completely true of Johnson when the 28-year-old was at his best.
28 isn’t young for running backs, but Johnson is still technically in the prime of his career. He’s coming off of his worst statistical season with just 3.9 yards per carry, but he also slogged through a torn meniscus that required surgery this offseason. He’ll be a full-go for the start of training camp and is currently near 100%, so the Jets should have a dynamic 1-2 punch in Johnson and the bruising Chris Ivory to lead Rex Ryan’s ground-and-pound. Eric Decker, Jace Amaro, Jalen Saunders, and the steady Jeremy Kerley will help pace the passing attack, which has plenty of upside. There is some downside, but Michael Vick should at least be average if Geno Smith implodes or something.
Give a click to the article above, because it does a great job of explaining the kind of impact Johnson could have on the Jets offense, which was a disaster last season. With growth from Smith and better weapons around their second-year pro, the Jets offense has the upside to be a force next season, especially when you look at the rushing attack. Johnson will likely receive more carries than Ivory, but hopefully the former New Orleans Saints backup can stay healthy and get some work in as well.
Johnson faced an awful lot of stacked boxes during his time with the Titans, so hopefully Smith and the passing attack can be potent enough to prevent that kind of crowding. Johnson is as hit-or-miss as the offense as a whole, but he’s also as electric as the offense could be and is one of a handful of true home-run threats at the position. He’s also consistently productive, so he’s a good bet for 1,000 yards in a feature back role.
Is he a future Hall of Famer? That actually isn’t out of the question if he can play at a high level again for the Jets, because he did accrue some big numbers while with the Titans. But first ballot? That’s not going to happen.