2014 New York Jets: The Curious Use of Chris Johnson
Dec 21, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets running backChris Johnson
(21) is tackled by New England Patriots nose tackleAlan Branch
(97) in the first quarter during the game at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
There was a lot of excitement around the acquisition of Chris Johnson by the New York Jets. Johnson may not have been the guy that ran for 2,000 yards anymore, but he was the guy that ran for over 1,000 yards every season with the Titans. Johnson, with his speed game, was set to be the perfect change of pace to Chris Ivory. We all couldn’t wait for the opportunity to watch Johnson get out on the edge. We finally had a weapon to use in the screen game as well.
We all wonder about some of the choices made by Marty Mornhinweg. When we saw him actually use Chris Johnson, we would wonder even more. Let’s look at the numbers and you will see what I mean.
Dec 7, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; New York Jets running back Chris Johnson (21) catches a pass against the Minnesota Vikings in the third quarter at TCF Bank Stadium. The Vikings win 30-24. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
As we mentioned on the previous page, we were all excited to see Chris Johnson in the passing game. The problem is that Marty Morninweg doesn’t really USE Johnson in the passing game.
Starting in 2010, Johnson was targeted each year as follows: 55 times in 2010, 75 times in 2011, 44 times in 2012, and 51 times in 2013. In each of those seasons, Johnson recorded receptions over 75% of the time, so clearly he is a reliable receiver. Johnson never dropped more than four passes in any of those seasons.
Johnson has had the same reliability in 2014. He has dropped only three passes so far this season, and caught nearly 80% of the passes thrown his way. Trouble is, he has only been targeted 29 times. Without a huge passing presence next week, Johnson will be nowhere near his typical targets for the season.
He is still a terrific receiving threat. Marty Mornhinweg just seemed to not use him.
Dec 21, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets running back Chris Johnson (21) is tackled by New England Patriots cornerbackDarrelle Revis
(24) in the first half during the game at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
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We also talked about getting Chris Johnson “on the edge”. Johnson is so fast, he was finally going to give the Jets the speed threat that we haven’t seen in years. He was going to be the perfect complement to the hard, inside running of Chris Ivory. It was going to be “Thunder and Lightning”.
Hasn’t it seemed like, for the most part, they have used Johnson the same way they have used Ivory? Johnson seems to run between the tackles more than anything else. Granted, he has had some success. But, they have not used him at his best, on the outside.
So, we wonder about Marty Mornhinweg sometimes. Here is a big example why.