Chris Johnson wants to prove that last year was a fluke and thinks that he is still the best running back in the league.
“I feel I am still the best back in the league, and I have no problem saying that. None of the active backs have done anything that I have done in the first four years, even though I had a bad year last year. So I still feel like I am the best back in the league.”
Johnson averaged less than 100 yards from scrimmage per game last year and scored only four touchdowns, two years after going for over 2500 total yards and a 2,000 yard rushing season. The disappointing season also came immediately after a prolonged and public holdout that extended into the preseason before he reached a long term deal.
You might recall that Chris Johnson predicted he would go for 2,500 rushing yards to follow up his 2009 season, so he’s never been constrained by realism or lacked in belief of his abilities. Johnson also said again that he wants to rush for 2,000 yards again and become the first back to do that.
What are the chances that Chris Johnson rebounds to actually be the best back in the league after last year’s disappointment. Here’s a list of the top yardage seasons at age 24 in the NFL, and Johnson was on top. Among those who reached 1,700 or more yards at age 24, Johnson joins Jamal Lewis, Barry Foster, Marcus Allen, Earl Campbell, Domanick Williams, Ted Brown, and Deuce McAllister as those that declined to finish outside the top 10 in running back numbers at age 26.
Domanick Williams was out of the league with a knee injury, Foster was hurt at both age 25 and 26, and retired. Of those backs, most of the decline was injury related. Earl Campbell and Chris Johnson are the only two on the list to play in every game at age 26, but put up far worse numbers. Jamal Lewis missed one game, and Deuce McAllister missed two.
Some of them had some bounce back seasons (Allen most notably had six more seasons with 1,000 yards from scrimmage), but none of them returned to make even an arguable claim to being the best back in the league, or for that matter one of the best four backs at any time after age 26.
[photo via US Presswire]