If you thought one down year was going to quiet Chris Johnson, I’m not exactly sure what you were thinking. Johnson, the Tennessee Titans running back who put up more than 2,000 rushing yards in 2009 and backed it up with nearly 1,400 more a year later (while scoring 25 touchdowns combined), averaged just 4.0 yards per carry and barely eclipsed 1,000 yards with four rushing touchdowns in 2012.
It hasn’t shaken his confidence, however. Johnson says if the team gives him the ball and allows him to find his groove, he’ll put up at least 1,500 rushing yards and 500 more receiving. The Titans just gave him a new contract last year, so they certainly hope he can back up his talk.
Chris Johnson joined WGFX in Nashville with Three Hour Lunch to discuss if he just put last year behind him, what motivates him, if he needs a lot of touches to be effective, his expectations for this season, how many carries he needs to reach those expectations, what a race between he and Usain Bolt would look like and what he would choose if forced to pick between a Super Bowl ring or a Hall of Fame speech.
Have you watched any film from last year or did you just bury it?:
“I feel like I went through a lot last year and I was still able to put up over 1,000 yards. That’s still not my standard, but I still feel like I went out there and grinded every game and left it out there on the field.”
You’ve got the money and the accolades. What’s left for you?:
“The Hall of Fame. I want to be a Hall of Famer. When I get done with this game, I don’t want to get ran out of the NFL. I want to be at the top of my game. I want to be the best back in the league every year that I’m in the league.”
Do you feel like you have to have a lot of carries to be effective?:
“I’m the type of back who feels like I have to get in my groove. If I’m not in my groove, it’s going to be real hard. I can’t come out of every game with like 10 or 12 touches and people just bet that it’s OK. If you go back to my 2,000-yard year, I was right between 20 and 25 carries a game.”
Who makes you more of an effective running back: Matt Hasselbeck or Jake Locker?:
“Offensive line. … I feel like we are pretty smooth. Fernando [Velasco], the guy that’s stepped in [on the offensive line], he’s a veteran guy. He came in the league the same year I did, so he’s been here. … Anytime last year or the previous years that anybody went down, Fernando stepped in and made some nice blocks and stuff. If he has to step in and be the starter this year, I think he’s ready to go.”
What’s the low end of what you expect for yards, both rushing and receiving, this year?:
“1,500 and 500. Something like that.”
How many carries do you think it takes you to get in that groove?:
“It varies. It depends on how you start the game. You might start the game and they’re stopping us, but that doesn’t mean go away from the running game. You’ve got to continue to get the ball. You can’t go into the locker room with two, three, four, five carries and expect to be in your groove. … Sometimes you get down early and you’ve got to pass the ball, so sometimes it’s hard. But any time the game is close and you’ve got a running back like myself, or a playmaker, you’ve got to continue to give them the ball.”
What would a 100-meter race between you and Usain Bolt look like?:
“I think it would be a pretty good race if I had the chance to actually train for it. I haven’t really trained for track since high school. … My best time in high school was a 10.3. … He’s a tremendous athlete. I think he’s the best runner in the world and I feel like he’ll go down as the best sprint athlete ever.”
Do you think someone will ever run the 100 in under nine seconds?:
“I’m not sure. Every year it seems like times is getting lower and lower. As a new generation comes on, somebody’s eventually going to break that record. Records are made to be broke.”
If you had to choose between the Hall of Fame and a Super Bowl ring, what would you choose?:
“If I choose Hall of Fame speech, everyone’s going to feel like I’m selfish, but then again if I choose Super Bowl, then I’m kind of not going to reach my goal. But I feel if I get my Super Bowl ring, it’ll be a better chance of me making the Hall of Fame.”