Through the first two weeks of the regular season, Chris Johnson has disappointed millions of fantasy football owners who drafted the Titans running back early in their respective fantasy leagues.
In losses to the Patriots and Chargers this season, Johnson has rushed the ball 19 times for 21 yards. If you’re not up on how that translates to fantasy points – it’s not good.
Lions head coach Jim Schwartz knows that he can’t ignore the former NFL 2,000-yard rusher on Sunday -- no matter the start he's had to the season -- having been in Tennessee as the team's defensive coordinator in 2008 when Johnson was a rookie and rushed for 1,228 yards and averaged nearly 5 yards per carry.
“I was there for his rookie year; saw how explosive he can be,” Schwartz said Wednesday. “It’s very rare that there’s a team that is averaging 29 yards a game rushing that you sit there and say, ‘Hey we've got to stop the run,’ but guess what? We have to stop the run.”
Johnson has certainly had his fair share of struggles this season, as his 1.1 average yards per carry might indicate, but it’s only a matter of time before he gets it going and Schwartz is doing everything to make sure it’s not Sunday in Tennessee.
“He can have eight carries for 8 yards and then go 80 yards on the ninth,” Schwartz said. “He’s an explosive player and we have a lot of respect for what he can do. We’re going to have to play our best in run defensive.
“We played well in the first week on run defense, not so well last week. We need to get back to playing well or we’re going to have a difficult time.”
Lions fans should know a little something about how slow starts in the run game can't always be indicative of the big picture. In 1997, Barry Sanders had 25 carries for 53 yards in his first two games, the rest of the season, he eclipsed the 100-yard mark in every game and finished with 2,053 yards on the season.
“Of course it’s very frustrating,” Johnson said in a conference call Wednesday. “Anytime, no matter if it’s your fault or not your fault, and you’re not having a great year or if you got off to a slow start, you’re in a situation where you’re going to be frustrated.
“But you’ve got to know how to handle the criticism and know how to handle the interview and things like that. You just know it always gets better.”
The Lions are hoping it doesn’t get better for Johnson for at least one more week.