Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything left. Johnson and the Jets certainly hope so.
Following a courtship that started with a meeting early in the week, the Jets announced a deal with Johnson on Wednesday. He is a home-run hitter and playmaker who adds a completely new dimension to their backfield. But his 1,077 rushing yards last year with the Titans was the second-lowest of his career. His 3.9 yards per carry were the lowest of his career.
But the 28-year-old said he still has plenty left in the tank as he heads into his seventh season in the NFL.
“I hurt my knee the third week of the season,” Johnson said of his down year. “There was a lot of type things that went into it. I'm not the type of player who likes to make excuses. [The criticism] keeps a chip on my shoulder to prove the naysayers wrong.”
During his visit earlier this week, Johnson walked away impressed with a Jets team that shocked the NFL with an 8-8 record last year. He called head coach Rex Ryan “aggressive” as a coach.
Johnson also brings the ability to be a pass-catching threat in the backfield. Johnson's skillset as a reliable safety valve could be invaluable to Geno Smith's development. He fits well into the West Coast offense and has a battering ram partner in Chris Ivory to soften opposing defenses.
Johnson had 42 catches for 345 yards in 2013, which would have been best among Jets running backs a season ago. How he fits into the Jets backfield alongside the aforementioned Ivory and Bilal Powell — not to mention Mike Goodson — is a good problem for the Jets coaching staff.
“Basically the situation, coming here, competing, just going to help the team win,” Johnson said. “[I am] not going to have too much concern about how the carries are going to be or that situation. From talking to Rex, talking to [offensive coordinator] Marty [Mornhinweg], they will put everybody in the best position to help the Jets win. That is what really mattered at the end of the day to me was going to a team that was a winning program and had a chance to be a contender.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.