So when the Titans made the move in the preseason to go from Matt Hasselbeck, more of a pocket guy like Collins was, to Jake Locker, more mobile like VY, the presumption was that things would get better for Johnson.
That’s not been the case.
Locker has started eight games this year, with Hasselbeck starting five while Locker was out with an injured left shoulder.
Per ESPN Stats & Info, Johnson has actually run better with Hasselbeck running the huddle:
Johnson is averaging 6.2 yards per rush in games Hasselbeck started and 3.6 in Locker’s starts.
Johnson was hit in the backfield on 11.2 percent of his rushes with Hasselbeck at quarterback, compared to 20.1 percent of his runs with Locker at QB.
Johnson is averaging 4.8 yards before contact per rush with Hasselbeck and 2.4 with Locker.
He’s scored three TDs playing with Hasselbeck and one with Locker.
Why the differences?
“VY vs. Collins was easy, a great running QB opens up a ton of room for the running back,” said Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. “Defensive ends were less likely to crash down on an inside run because they feared VY keeping it and going around tackle. That is just one of many examples.
“As for Hasselbeck vs. Locker, that is tougher to explain. Without REALLY digging into it heavily, my immediate thought is that Hasselbeck has much more freedom at the line of scrimmage to audible and get into the best play, whether it run or pass. I doubt Locker has that freedom. Also, the Titans’ offensive line was much healthier when Hasselbeck player (particularly with right tackle David Stewart), which could be the entire reason.”