There are no style points in the NFL. There are just statistics.
That’s a problem for Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson, who continues to struggle five games after he received what — at the time — was the richest contract ever given to a player at his position.
“I think Chris is running the way he runs,” coach Mike Munchak said Monday. “That’s his style. He’s not going to change the way he does things.
“He needs to play better. We need to block better. We all know that. When he’s having 50 yards a game, that’s not going to cut it. He’s a great player. He needs to play great. Now, that’s not happening.”
Johnson actually gained 51 yards in Sunday’s 38-17 loss at Pittsburgh — a game that started with so much promise.
He ran for 21 yards on the first play of the contest and had 34 yards on four carries through the Titans’ first seven offensive snaps. After that, he ran it 10 times for 17 yards.
“It has to get a lot better than it is,” Munchak said. “I think we all agree on that. We started thinking it was going to be a good day [Sunday] with the first couple runs — the first two or three runs were blocked pretty well. From there, we never really got it going after that. It was just small runs and really that was it.
“Again, if you only give your guy  carries … there’s not a lot of opportunity there, but it still wasn’t as good in certain spots.”
It has been an issue since the start of the season and Munchak has answered countless questions on the subject since Johnson’s Week 1 performance at Jacksonville — nine carries for 24 yards.
Prior to Monday’s game between Detroit and Chicago, the Titans were last in the league in rushing offense at 66.6 yards per game. Johnson was among the top 10 in rushes but was tied for 21st in total yards and his average per carry was 3.0.
“I think we’ve been saying that it needs to be better,” Munchak said. “It definitely needs to get better, and we’re working on it the only way you can work on it — in practice. Unfortunately we’ve had two or three games where we’ve gotten away from the run game, especially [Sunday] and the opener. We didn’t get as many carries as we’d like because of the score.”
The franchise has finished among the top 20 in rushing 17 times in the last 19 seasons, a period of time which pre-dates its move to Middle Tennessee and includes stretches in which Munchak was an offensive lineman, the offensive line coach and now the head coach. Eight times in there it was a top 10 rushing offense.
At their current pace, the Titans will finish with the fewest rushing yards for a full season in franchise history.
“We all thought we’d kind of be out of this by now and we’d put together two or three games by now and we have not,” Munchak said. “That’s definitely an area we all know has to get better than it is.”