Titans: 0-5 Is a Running Problem?

Titans RB Chris Johnson

Titans head coach Jeff Fisher is trying to find a way to get his team out of a rut. So he decided to lay the blame at the feet of his running backs.

When a team is 0-5, there are plenty of reasons.

One that Titans coach Jeff Fisher unexpectedly brought to light in his press conference Monday was the Titans' inability to run the football.

On the surface, that would appear to be way down on the list of problems the Titans are having.

After all, Chris Johnson entered last weekend leading the NFL in rushing with 434 yards. And even though he was held to just 34 yards by the Colts, Johnson only touched the ball nine times on handoffs.

But Fisher indicted the running game and his offensive line for not putting the Titans in enough manageable situations on second and third downs.

Fisher was asked if Johnson "danced" in the backfield too much trying to make the big home run plays with his 4.24 speed, as it appeared he has done on occasion this season. Fisher dismissed that notion, instead focusing on the offensive line's play as a problem in the running game.

"You can second guess each and every time somebody does something. I think as a team we need to run the football better," Fisher said. "C.J.'s a very good player, and C.J.'s not the reason that we're not doing what we need to do up front."

That said, the Titans are eighth in the league in rushing at 127.6 yards per game but second in the league in rushing average at 5.3 yards per attempt.
Still, three of Johnson's carries Sunday night were for 2 yards or less, perhaps validating that between Johnson's dancing and the offensive line's situation, perhaps the running game is part of the equation when talking about Tennessee's multitude of problems.

NOTES:
--RB Chris Johnson's 34-yard performance against the Colts dropped him from first to third among NFL rushers with 468 yards. Cincinnati's Cedric Benson and Minnesota's Adrian Peterson both passed Johnson last weekend.
--QB Kerry Collins remains the Titans' starter, despite increasing calls for Vince Young to get a chance. Jeff Fisher insists that Collins is not the problem, and Collins won't be benched anytime soon.
--TE Alge Crumpler had a costly fumble against the Colts but won't lose playing time anytime soon because Craig Stevens is out with a concussion. That leaves Crumpler as the Titans' only healthy true blocking tight end.
--WR Nate Washington had his string of three straight games with a touchdown catch stopped against the Colts. Washington had a 23-yard gain for a first down, but he also did not fight Tim Jennings off the spot in one route in the third quarter, and Jennings wound up intercepting the pass.
--WR Justin Gage has disappeared from the offense, with only one catch the past two weeks.
--DE William Hayes, who started in place of Jevon Kearse at left defensive end against Indianapolis, might keep the starting job. It makes sense that a second-year player who needs reps to improve should supplant a veteran who will be a free agent at year's end.
--DE Jevon Kearse won't be fined for leaving the stadium and not being on the sideline after finding out he was inactive for the Colts game.

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