Can Johnson Be Any More UnPatriot-like?
This story originally published on PatriotsInsider.com
Chris Johnson
Chris Johnson
PatriotsInsider.com
Posted Sep 21, 2012


Tired of the self-absorbed superstar who thinks he's not the problem? Don't worry that won't happen in New England. Tennessee RB Chris Johnson has a lot of growing up to do writes NFL analyst Jon Scott.

Superstars rarely think that when things go wrong it could be their fault, even partially.  Who can blame them? They’re a product of their environment.  Typically they’ve been coddled since kids, told they’re the best player out there and recruited by everyone to be on “their team.”  But that perception can lead to problems, serious problems for a team.

You see it every day in sports, the superstar who thinks they’re above the rest. They are the teflon kings as they're called by some.

In the NFL you usually see the entitled superstar attitude with rookies who have no idea how much work it takes to make it in the league.  Afterall, many of them have relied on superior skills to the competition; they come from winning college programs stocked with talent that made their success seem more than it was. Many of them think that they’re so good that they don’t have to work as hard as everyone else because they’re “special.”  Those are the players who become “busts,”  yhe Ryan Leafs of the world if you will.

Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson is rapidly falling into that category.  The category of a talented player who thinks that their success was self-generated and they didn’t need a solid supporting cast to attain it. It’s a trap that swallows careers and spits out former NFLers with the term “Bust” or “Loser” attached to them for the rest of their days.

Johnson rushed for 2,006 yards in 2009.
Johnson is dealing with an astounding drop-off of production that has seen his stock plummet from video game superstar to NFL alsoran.  After rushing for 5,645 yards his first four seasons  (1,411/ year) he’s on pace to net just 168 this season… a drop of epic proportions.

Yet, instead of accepting responsibility for the decline, or redoubling his efforts to break out of that funk, Johnson has decided the drop-off in production isn’t his fault.  He’s telling anyone who will listen that his decline from fantasy superstar to ‘Average Joe’ is because the guys who are supposed to make his life easy aren’t doing a good job.

“Even when I went for 2,000, I didn't think I was perfect, but I wouldn't sit here and say I'm to blame,” Johnson said according to TitansInsider Terry McCormick.  “I'm only gonna be as good as my line is going to be. We've got to work together and get better.”

The Patriots held Johnson to just four yards on 11 attempts (0.4 avg.) in the Titans’ season opener.  Many labeled that outing as an anomaly, a Haley’s Comet if you will.  When Johnson managed 17 yards on eight attempts (2.1 avg) vs San Diego in week two, Johnson’s blame game accelerated.

"The run game ain't working," Johnson said Sunday following the Titans loss to the Chargers. "We just aren't executing the plays. I don't know why we're not.”

Given the chance to become a leader by example, Johnson instead continued to try to deflect criticism onto others.

"People need to step up and do their job. They don't need to let people beat them. It don't matter who the opposing defense is, you can't let your guy beat you,” Johnson said after the game.  “You just can't give up plays. You have to make plays like they make plays. I can't speak for the defense. I can only speak for the offense."
Can Johnson actually speak for anyone?  

As a potential leader of the Titans when times are tough, it’s obvious Johnson has no concept of being a team leader.  The same guys who opened  holes a Mack truck could drive through two seasons ago, are unable to open the same size holes this season.  Johnson obviously can’t make something out of nothing, but he doesn't need to blame his offensive line.

Johnson's decline could very well be due to changes in the offensive line.  Does that mean Johnson is less of a super star, or does it really mean he’s dealing with the same pressures as everyone else (having to make something out of nothing every once in a while)?

We can all look like superstars when things are going well.  It’s the true superstars who overcome adversity when times are tough, without blaming others.  Such is the case in New England a place that has no room for superstars with super egos.  

One look at Tom Brady tells you all you need to know about how to be a leader. Perpetually surrounded by units with less than stellar talent, Brady never throws a teammate ‘under the bus.’ When the team succeeds, Brady credits the guys up front, the guys making the catches, the guys running the ball, even the guys on the defense stopping the other team.   When the team falters, Brady blames himself for not doing a better job.

If there is anyone in the league deserving of the opportunity to blame his supporting cast, it’s Brady. But, as with all true leaders, Brady declines to fall into the blame game.

Johnson has a lot to learn about being a superstar, and this may be the season that he gets his chance.  He has a great example to follow. Just take one look at Tom Brady and how he handles adversity, from setting NFL records and winning Super Bowls to losing them or falling short of expectations.  Brady has been there and done that.  He is just one example Johnson could learn from.

The real question is, does Johnson want to?

By the sound of things in Tennessee, it’s not looking like he does.

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