Commentary

Cash vs. calls: Tennessee's big edge

Chris Johnson could be an all-time great if he sticks with his creative playcaller

Updated: July 1, 2010, 3:35 PM ET
By KC Joyner | ESPN Insider
Chris JohnsonDon McPeak-US PresswireJohnson had an epic season last year, but he didn't do it on his own.

When pondering the Chris Johnson contract situation, I cannot help but remember a comment Bill James made in the 1982 "Baseball Abstract." James said, "I always think how different the careers of Oscar Gamble and Richie Zisk might have been had they used their freedom to get into situations where they could succeed, rather than joining desperate organizations in parks that were terrible for them because that's where the most money was."

Johnson doesn't quite yet have the tenure to make such a move, but his recent comments regarding wanting to be the best-paid player in the NFL indicate money will be the primary factor when he does hit the free-agent market.

If Johnson is concerned about maximizing his talent potential, and not just his financial potential, that mindset could very well be a mistake. I say this because, after breaking down the Tennessee Titans' 2009 tapes, I am convinced that a notable portion of credit for Johnson's breakout season should be given to Mike Heimerdinger, Tennessee's offensive coordinator and possibly the finest run playcaller in the league.

The best way to highlight Heimerdinger's creativity is by illustrating a few examples of his brilliance.


To read KC Joyner's breakdown of Mike Heimerdinger's creative playcalling, including animated play diagrams, you must be an ESPN Insider.