Cleveland Browns coach Pat Shurmur might be thinking along the lines of fantasy football owners this week concerning Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson.
In other words, Shurmur is wondering what's up with one of the NFL's elite big-play backs. Through three games Johnson has just 98 yards on 46 carries. That usually equates to one half of work for Johnson, who rushed for 2,006 yards in 2009 and 1,364 last season.
It's only a matter of time before Johnson breaks out and makes life miserable for some defense. Shurmur hopes it's not Sunday when the Browns host the Titans at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
"He's obviously a guy that if he gets to the perimeter, I don't think that's good for the defense because of his shear speed," Shurmur said. "You'll find in the NFL it's very hard sometimes to run the ball to the perimeter. Number one, the guys on the inside of the defense can run so fast and they can catch it and the outside of the defense a lot of the times does a good job of cornering it and turning it back. If he can get to the perimeter or he can get through the line of scrimmage to the second level, then I think he's extremely dangerous because if he gets squared up and he's running fast through space he's hard to tackle."
The convenient excuse would be to say Johnson's slow start can be attributed to missing training camp in a contract dispute. He eventually signed a six-year extension worth $56 million, but it wasn't in time for him to appear in any of the four preseason games.
In the season opener against Jacksonville Johnson was limited to 24 yards on nine carries. He was held to 53 yards on 24 carries against Baltimore, and last Sunday against Denver he rushed for 21 yards on 13 carries.
The biggest surprise is Johnson's paltry average of 2.1 yards per carry. Maybe there is something to that theory about missing training camp.
"I think it's a factor in this whole thing," Titans coach Mike Munchak said. "I think it is hard to get your fits in the running game when you haven't done it in so long. Even though guys don't play a lot in preseason games, you still miss a lot of reps (in training camp).
"That's a small part of it. The defenses we've played have done a nice job. We haven't blocked as well as we need to consistently. It's not only one problem. It's a lot of little things. It only takes one run. We just have to keep working at it. We know if we're going to win this division, we need much more out of the running game."
It's ironic that Johnson will face the Browns, who earlier this week promoted AFC Defensive Player of the Month honors for middle linebacker D'Qwell Jackson. Jackson is among the top tacklers in the NFL with 30. He enjoys playing in the 43 defense, which frees him up to pursue and take good angles on ball carriers.
Trying to catch Johnson will be a big challenge.
"Right now (receiver) Kenny Britt is out, so they're going to lean a little more on him (Johnson)," Jackson said. "Right now it's the fourth week, so he's now getting his legs under him. We're looking for him to get the ball more, whether it's on screens or the classic stretch plays.
"It's another great test for us as a defense. We're playing pretty well. We're not giving up touchdowns. If we can do that and stop the run, I think we'll be ahead of ourselves."
If they can do that the Browns might also have a 3-1 record.