“I’m gonna make them regret letting me go,” said Johnson shortly after being signed by the Jets. “They gon’ regret it, trust that.”
Johnson gets his chance at revenge when he returns to Tennessee for the first time and faces the team that made him the 24th overall pick of the 2008 NFL draft.
“It’s going to be kind of weird,” said Johnson of returning to Tennessee during an interview with ESPN Radio on Monday.
After a solid rookie season Johnson burst on to the scene in 2009, his second season when he became one of only seven players in the entire history of the NFL to rush for 2,000 yards, falling only 99 yards short of Eric Dickerson’s single season record of 2,105.
In that same year Johnson broke Hall-of-Fame running back Marshall Faulk’s record for most total yards from scrimmage accumulating a total of 2,509 yards from scrimmage.
As a Titan, Johnson molded himself into a duel threat, both catching and running the ball, on his way to becoming a first-team All-Pro in 2009 and a three-time Pro Bowler (2008, 2009 and 2010.)
Johnson cashed in on his success in 2011 when, after staging a holdout during training camp, he signed a four-year $53.5 million extension.
While Johnson hasn’t yet duplicated his magical 2009 season, reports of his diminishing skills and effectiveness have been greatly exaggerated.
Johnson was durable during his six-year stint with the Titans, only missing one game, as well as productive, never rushing for less than 1,077 yards in a season.
But the Titans who are in the beginning stages of a rebuild, felt it wasn’t in their best interests to pay Johnson $8 million for the 2014 season and released him, thereby saving $4 million.
12 days after being released by the Titans, Johnson signed a two-year $8 million deal with the Jets forming a formidable backfield with Chris Ivory.
The running game is one of the few things to go right for the Jets this season as they are ranked second in the NFL in total rushing yards (1,946) and yards per game (149.7).
While the Jets have had team success in the running game, some of Johnson’s individual numbers are down which can be attributed to his lack of carries.
After averaging over 17 carries last season, Johnson has attempted less than ten carries per game this season.
It’s safe to say Johnson has had trouble adjusting to not being the lead dog in the backfield for the first time in his career.
“It’s definitely harder than what I expect(ed),” said Johnson “It’s a situation where a lot of times stuff is out of your hand…I look at it as a situation where I just take advantage of every opportunity I get.”
When Johnson has gotten his opportunities this season he has taken advantage of them. He is averaging four-and-a-half yards per carry, equaling his most since he rushed for 2,000 yards in ‘09
Most recently, Johnson showed he still has plenty of play-making ability left in his legs when in week 12’s Monday night loss to the Dolphins, Johnson ran for 105 yards on only 17 carries, including a 47-yard run in which Johnson made several Dolphins defenders miss.
If Johnson gets his carries and opportunities early in Sunday’s game, look for him to show some of that playmaking ability that used to make Titans fans cheer.