Why the Titans Running Game will be Elite in 2013
The Tennessee Titans are set to have a Top 5 running game in 2013. With Chris Johnson and Shonn Greene running behind Michael Roos, Andy Levitre, Chance Warmack, David Stewart, and Rob Turner/Fernando Velasco, the team will have no problem gashing defenses for 100+ yards every game.
Why this team will make it happen
This team is built to run the ball. Head Coach Mike Munchak and Offensive Line Coach Bruce Matthews are former offensive linemen that loved the run game in their time with the Oilers. As an offensive line coach for the Titans, Munchak put together some terrifying run games with running backs Eddie George and Chris Johnson (see 2009). After a down-year in 2012, the Munchak has said that he would be more involved with the offensive line during 2013. It is obvious that he has worked with the line, as the team looked fantastic in the running game on Thursday against the Redskins. Chris Johnson scored a signature 58-yard touchdown, and Shonn Greene ran the ball 5 times for 32 yards and a touchdown.
Chris Johnson is a proven running back. The back rushed for 2,006 yards in 2009 and broke the yards from scrimmage record with 2,509 total yards on offense. The man is a playmaker and has never had a sub-1,000 rushing yards season. Johnson managed to rush for 1,243 yards in 2012 with the worst offensive line that he’s ever had due to injuries stacked on top of injuries. Johnson is set to have his best season since 2009.
Shonn Greene is an underrated running back. Many people believe he was a flop in New York and is only good for short-yardage situations; however, a “short-yardage” back isn’t able to rush for 1,063 yards and 8 touchdowns in a season. Greene will be used in short-yardage primarily but will also see plenty of playing time on 1st and 10. This offense will be very efficient with two 1,000 yard rushers splitting carries, similar to the Chris Johnson/LenDale White combo of “Smash and Dash.”
This offensive line is experienced in running the ball well. Michael Roos and David Stewart were both of the starting tackles for the line in 2009 when Chris Johnson broke 2,000 rushing yards. Andy Levitre was a major part of the Buffalo Bills offensive line that put together a 2,217 rushing yard season in 2012. Center Rob Turner and his offensive line blocked for 1,714 rushing yards for the St. Louis Rams in 2012. Finally Chance Warmack… The 10th overall pick of 2013… The Crimson Tide offensive line put together 2,788 rushing yards in 2011 and 3,171 in 2012. Although Warmack was only one player for the line, he was a major part of it. The rookie specializes in run blocking and will continue to excel at it in the NFL.
Why other teams will make it happen
This running game will be good. That is known; however, the opposing teams are what will make this running game exceptional. The Titans will face ten teams that allowed an average of at least 100 yards in 2012. Although that is the past, those teams will not be magically better at defending the run, especially the Jets (26th in the league), Chiefs (27th), Cardinals (28th), Colts (29th), and the Jaguars (30th). That is seven games for the Tennessee Titans against teams with a weak run-defense. This team will be very scary in the run game for a few teams and will still do well against the teams that did well against the run, such as the Texans and the Chargers, as shown by the preseason game against the Redskins, who were 5th in the league against the run in 2012, allowing only 95.8 rushing yards per game.
The Titans will run the ball, often and well. With a below average passing game, the two-toned blue will have to rely on Chris Johnson and Shonn Greene to carry the slack for the team and win some games, which will definitely be possible with this offensive line and against some weak rushing defenses.