Johnson sets sights on rushing title as Titans fight for survival
One note before I start my Friday column: My sympathies -- and I'm sure everyone who reads this will echo my sentiments -- to the family of
The game of the week matches teams with a combined 8-10 record. But I don't mind saying the Tennessee-Houston game Monday night fascinates me more than Colts-Ravens (the Ravens are 2-4 since September), Falcons-Giants (1-7, combined, in their last four games) or Chargers-Broncos (only a matter of time before the Chargers take over the AFC West). Five reasons:
Johnson interests me Monday night as much as anything. He told me this week that he thinks if he hadn't gotten hurt last year in the divisional playoff match with Baltimore at home, "we would all have Super Bowl rings on our hands right now. I know last year would have ended differently.'' He also said he very much considers himself in the same league with Adrian Peterson, and it's important to him to compete for the rushing title. As of this morning, Johnson has a 109-yard lead on
"I'm competing with the best, and I want to be the best,'' said Johnson, the Titans' first-round pick in the 2008 draft. "I know I'm competing with Adrian Peterson, and that's important to me.''
How that competition with the great Peterson looks since the start of the 2008 season:
Add in receptions, and this is the comparison:
Interesting, isn't it? Johnson's in the same league with Peterson through the first year and a half of his NFL career. It'll be good to see him Monday night before a national audience.
You know the old quarterback line: "The quarterback gets too much credit when you win, and too much blame when you lose." Most often, I buy it. But Ryan's getting bashed a little too much for my taste in the Falcons' precipitous slide, seeing that he's still put up 22 points a game in Atlanta's 1-3 skid.
But he's also not seeing the field as well, and part of being a great quarterback is finding a way to extend drives to keep a poor defense off the field. And make no mistake about it: The Atlanta defense has slid since a solid 4-1 start.
I also think as much as Ryan's gained with the addition of tight end
The go-ahead touchdown reception in the second quarter, a touchdown dive at the pylon to make it 14-3 (amazing NFL Network stat: Williams never before has had a rushing TD and receiving TD in one game, and he did it here in one quarter), and the winning score late in the fourth quarter on a scintillating 46-yard run. What more can this remarkable football player -- once most famous for having a draft traded for him -- do? With
German kid. Speaks English with a German-Texas twang after spending four years at the University of Houston. Faces an interesting challenge this week with the Jets' changeup pass-rush. At 6-foot-8 and with arms like a power forward, he's a very, very interesting long-term prospect.
The New York D needs him badly. Jints allowed 71 points in their five games, all wins. Jints have allowed 123 points in their last four games, all losses. Very odd bit of good news for the Giants: On Thursday, the 53-man roster practiced in toto for the first time this year.