When NFL Network analyst LaDainian Tomlinson joined the "NFL Fantasy Live" crew Monday, his list of the weekend's top-flight runners didn't include embattled Tennessee Titans back Chris Johnson, who instead received a scolding from the former San Diego Chargers great.
"Chris Johnson is an explosive player, and there's no way he should be averaging 1.4 yards per carry this season," Tomlinson said. "I mean, he's a home-run hitter. I think he's not running with the same passion, and he's not running with the same effectiveness and really that 'go get it' mentality that he has in the past."
Johnson has stumbled out of the gate to the tune of 45 yards on 33 carries. Instead of owning up to his early struggles, he blamed Tennessee's offensive line after an especially rough start that included 4 yards on 11 attempts in the opener and a Week 2 implosion in which he turned out just 17 more. He squeezed out 24 yards in Sunday's 44-41 overtime win over the Detroit Lions.
"I mean, I think it's going to be tough to bounce back from this," Tomlinson said. "He has to change his mindset. He has to want to ... explode through the holes and make people miss like he used to.
"I just see a lack of, you know, toughness from Chris Johnson, like he really doesn't want to hit the holes, and he really doesn't want to be out there playing right now for some reason. And here's the thing: He's blamed it on his offensive line, and as a running back, that's something that you never want to do is blame it on your offensive line. He makes the most money on that team, and ultimately it falls on him to get the job done."
After watching the tape on Johnson's three September outings, we can't help but agree.
Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.