There may be a perception among NFL watchers and fantasy players that Chris Johnson is having a down year. But then again, everything after his 2,006-yard sophomore season as the Titans’ tailback would pale in comparison.
But CJ2K also is making a comeback of sorts. He’s already cleared 1,000 rushing yards for the fifth time in five seasons and his 4.7 yards per rush are his best since his 5.6 in 2009.
“He’s still one of the leading rushers in the league,” Jets head coach Rex Ryan said today. “He’s a dangerous guy. He’s somebody, every time he touches it, you hold your breath. He’s that kind of athlete, so a dropoff in play? I don’t know. I don’t necessarily see it because he’s the same explosive guy to me on tape. You don’t get a whole lot of sleep worrying about this guy, that’s for sure. He’s a great player. Obviously, everybody knows about him. He’s no secret.
“I think when he first got into the league, you weren’t necessarily that sure. You saw a guy, ‘Hey, he’s a little undersized for a running back,’ and then he’s blowing by you and ‘Oh, man.’ You can say a guy is fast, you can read the numbers, but when you see it on the field, it’s happening right in front of you, it’s a little scary. I saw it first-hand several times when we played against him here but also in Baltimore.”
Actually, Ryan defenses have done pretty well against Johnson. In ’08, Rex’s last year with the Ravens, Johnson had 44 yards on 18 carries. The next year vs. the Jets, he had 97 yards on 22 carries. But the Titans lost both of those games.
However, while the Jets have improved in many areas and rankings on defense, is this year’s run defense improved as well? The Jets are still ranked 29th in rush yards allowed per game, not a good omen against Johnson and running QB Jake Locker. Ryan said, “I think our run defense has definitely improved,” but he was clearly unhappy with yielding that untouched 32-yard TD jaunt by Montell Owens at Jacksonville.
Yet one ranking that isn’t mentioned a lot is opponents’ rush yards per carry. The Jets after five games were allowing 4.9 yards per carry, 29th in the league. In the last eight games, the average is 4.0, which has improved their league ranking to 19th.
It will have to be good enough. As Ryan said, this week vs. Tennessee “is a bit of a challenge.”
Tebow Upon Further Review
One day after Rex Ryan said he didn’t see Tim Tebow Wildcatting and personal protecting on Monday night at Tennessee due to his still sore ribs, the Jets coach saw enough improvement at Thursday’s practice to put all the familiar TT roles back on the table today.
“I was just adamant about, well, there will be no Wildcat, but I’m like, he may be able to go back to similar roles,” Ryan said at today’s news conference. “He’s always been cleared to play, but as good as he looked to me, I don’t want to rule that out for the simple fact that this is as good as he’s looked in several weeks.”
Tebow, holding rare back-to-back locker room news conferences (he normally talks to reporters Wednesday and Friday, but before the Monday night game, Thursday was the new Wednesday this week), was encouraged.
“I try to go out there and compete like any other practice. I’m glad he felt good about it and thought highly,” Tebow said, adding about getting ready for game contact for the first time since Nov. 18 at St. Louis, “I’ll be ready for that first hit … I think I will be.”
So the ‘Cat is back in the game plan? “I guess,” Tebow said, “it could be considered.”
Cynics might say this is all a ploy to make sure Tennessee is spending extra time getting ready for the Wildcat when the Jets really aren’t planning to run it. Well, maybe, but as Titans coach Mike Munchak said Thursday, “I think it’s obviously something we would prepare for anyway.”
Friday Injury Picture
Ryan reported today that X-rays on RB Bilal Powell’s toe came back negative. Both Powell and LB Bryan Thomas (chest) went from DNPs to limited work in team drills at today’s practice at the Atlantic Health Training Center. S LaRon Landry (heel) got his usual mid-practice-week day on the sideline. The rest of the Jets report remained the same as Thursday.
WR Braylon Edwards (hamstring) was limited for a second straight day. Ryan: “We’re being cautious there. I’m going to lean on the trainers. We’re hopeful he’ll be able to go on Monday.”
Titans RB Chris Johnson (ankle), who didn’t practice Thursday, and T Michael Roos (knee), who was limited, both were full-go at today’s practice in Nashville.
One Confusing Facemask
Upon reviewing the video of the Jets’ Sunday win at Jacksonville, we wanted set the record straight one more time, primarily because it involved some fans perhaps giving Muhammad Wilkerson a demerit for his latest strong performance when in fact Mo didn’t deserve the markdown.
The play was the fourth-quarter penalty on the Jets (their only flag of the game) for grasping the facemask of scrambling Jaguars QB Chad Henne. Referee Al Riveron got the error parade going by announcing, “Personal foul, facemask, No. 96.” That’s Wilkerson, but No. 98, Quinton Coples, was actually the guilty party, as the CBS slow-mo replay showed.
A referee announcing the wrong number on a penalty isn’t a frequent mistake although it happens probably more than you’d think. In this case, 96 and 98 are swarming the QB, Riveron is told the wrong number by the side judge or the head linesman, he reports it to the world.
However, that’s when network analyst Solomon Wilcots compounded the error as he spoke over the replay of Coples clearly hooking Henne’s mask as Wilkerson was closing ground from the left.
“He was going down anyway,” Wilcots said. “Take a look here. Now why’d you have to grab the facemask? There it is right there, Muhammad Wilkerson. Wow.”
Monday McKnight Football
Laura Clemente, our communications coordinator and social media maven, reports on an opportunity to win a neat prize during Monday’s Jets-Titans game:
“While the team is on the road and you’re tuned in to the Jets-Titans Monday night match-up on ESPN, you will have an exclusive opportunity. All you need to do is check into the game via Viggle on your smartphone or iPad and you could win a Joe McKnight autographed football. So watch the Jets on MNF, download the free Viggle app from the App Store or Google Play and enter for a chance to win! Check out viggle.com for more on how to download the app, win great prizes and get points for rewards.”
Tags: Bilal Powell, Braylon Edwards, Chris Johnson, Rex Ryan, Tennessee Titans, Tim Tebow, Wildcat
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