Newly signed Redskins RB Larry Johnson had a turbulent 2009… he turned 30, changed teams mid-season, went from a starter in KC to a backup for Cedric Besnon in Cincinnati who went on to have a breakout year, and Johnson for the first time in his career failed to get into the endzone.
From Johnson’s NFL Career Stats:
I’m going to be as optimistic as I can right now, so the good news is that in the latter half of the season when Johnson joined Cincy, he finally got a taste of what it’s like to run behind a good offensive line and regain some confidence. And even though he got minimal touches due to Benson’s major success as the featured back, Johnson ran consistently better behind their top 10 run blocking o-line.
To illustrate in plain, colorful visuals what that looks like… check out this graphic:
Notice that there is no huge dips into the red after week 7 when he left KC….
In reality — Johnson only took 80 snaps for the Bengals. However, in those 80 snaps he averaged over 4 yards a carry for each game…. which is something he hadn’t done since 2006. The truth is the Chiefs had an AWFUL offensive line in 2009, particularly in terms of run blocking. And even on the Bengals, Johnson struggled between the tackles.
But behind a decent pulling offensive line with the Redskins, I think Larry Johnson can produce some explosiveness for this team. Of course, that is easier said than done. And the discouraging fact is:
The Redskins had one of the worst run blocking unit’s in the NFL, even worse than the Chiefs.
So, in all my optimism regarding Larry Johnson’s abilities, there is one caveat that is perhaps fundamental to the success or failure of his role — unless the Skins draft heavily on the O-line for the next several April’s — Larry Johnson is going to have a loooooong 3 years with this team.