Shortly after Sunday’s 37-19 victory over Philadelphia, Tennessee Titans’ running back Chris Johnson talked about the choice that opposing defenses have to make.
“It’s all up to their team, who they want to stop,” he said. “(If) they want to put everybody in the box and then the wide receivers make plays. They’ll see that we’ve got a receiver that can make plays downfield and they can’t just leave him one-on-one and things like that.”
The fact that the Titans have the options offensively to force such decisions not only is reassuring, it’s exceedingly rare.
Consider that it’s not even the halfway point of the season and Johnson already has seven rushing touchdowns and wide receiver Kenny Britt has seven receiving touchdowns, which ties them for second overall in the league. Johnson’s rushing touchdowns are the most in the NFL and Britt’s receiving scores are second only to the eight of San Diego tight end Antonio Gates.
Now consider that it’s been nearly two decades since the franchise has had players finish the same season with at least seven rushing and seven receiving touchdowns.
The last time it happened was 1992 when Lorenzo White ended up with seven rushing touchdowns and Ernest Givens caught 10 touchdown passes. Haywood Jeffires added nine receiving scores for an offense that finished third in the league in total offense.
Four times since then (1993, 1994 1998 and 2005) the team has gone an entire season without anyone getting either seven rushing or receiving touchdowns.
The year-by-year breakdown of team leaders:
• 2009: Rushing – Chris Johnson 14 ; Receiving – Nate Washington 6.
• 2008: Rushing – LenDale White 15; Receiving – Justin Gage 6.
• 2007: Rushing – LenDale White 7; Receiving – Roydell Williams 4.
• 2006: Rushing – Travis Henry and Vince Young 7; Receiving – Brandon Jones 4.
• 2005: Rushing – Chris Brown 5; Receiving – Drew Bennett and Ben Troupe 4.
• 2004: Rushing – Chris Brown 6; Receiving – Drew Bennett 11.
• 2003: Rushing – Eddie George 5; Receiving – Derrick Mason 8.
• 2002: Rushing – Eddie George 12; Receiving – Derrick Mason 5.
• 2001: Rushing – Eddie George and Steve McNair 5; Receiving – Derrick Mason 9.
• 2000: Rushing – Eddie George 14; Receiving – Derrick Mason 5.
• 1999: Rushing – Eddie George 9; Receiving – Kevin Dyson, Eddie George and Yancy Thigpen 4.
• 1998: Rushing – Eddie George 5; Receiving – Willie Davis, Derrick Mason and Yancy Thigpen 3.
• 1997: Rushing – Steve McNair 8; Receiving – Willie Davis and Frank Wycheck 4.
• 1996: Rushing – Eddie George 8; Receiving – Willie Davis and Frank Wycheck 6.
• 1995: Rushing – Rodney Thomas 5; Receiving – Chris Sanders 9.
• 1994: Rushing – Gary Brown 4; Receiving – Haywood Jeffires 6.
• 1993: Rushing – Gary Brown 6; Receiving – Haywood Jeffires 6.
Not surprisingly the Titans came out of Sunday’s game, in which Britt scored three times, second in the league in scoring offense at 28.4 per game. They also were sixth in the NFL in red zone efficiency with 13 touchdowns in 21 tries (61.9 percent).
Britt has scored at least one touchdown in each of the last five games. Johnson has at least one rushing touchdown in four of the seven contests.
“(Britt) has been making a lot of big plays for us, and he’ll continue to do so,” coach Jeff Fisher said Monday. “I think in the long run it should help. It should help open up the run game a little bit.”
Of course, that will be for the defense to decide.
• Fisher said Monday that he and his staff will consider the bye week, which falls following Sunday’s game at San Diego, when deciding whether or not to play quarterback Vince Young this week. If Young sits out again, he will have a three-week window to return to help.
“That’s certainly part of the consideration,” Fisher said. “There’s a lot of factors that you have to consider. … Vince is most effective when he has his legs under him – not just s a runner but also as a passer.”
Young has missed most of the last two games with knee and ankle injuries.
“I’m optimistic about this week, but he’ll be day-to-day again,” Fisher said.
• Fisher confirmed that the NFL is looking into the nightclub incident that led Britt to be benched until the second quarter against Philadelphia and said that further punishment for the second-year wide receiver is possible.
“The league is looking into the matter; that’s all I can say,” Fisher said. “…Taking disciplinary action, from a club standpoint, is still a realistic possibility.”
He said Britt was “pretty close to not playing” on Sunday but he felt it was not in the best interest of the team to hold him out an entire contest without all the facts. Britt finished with 225 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
“He prepared himself to play,” Fisher said. “Obviously, things worked out nicely for him.”