Derrick Henry, the Titans’ most complete and dominant weapon … and perhaps in the NFL


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Derrick Henry, the Titans' most complete and dominant weapon ... and perhaps in the NFL

Derrick Henry seems hell-bent on becoming the new image of the definition of “unstoppable” in the dictionary, and the Tennessee Titans running back may reinforce that idea in the game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Former wide receiver Dez Bryant may not be so wrong when he tweeted that Henry is the player we all believe in in the Madden video game, physically superior, elusive, agile, fast and high-explosive on the line of scrimmage after his dominant performance on last Monday night, when he rushed for 143 yards on 20 runs, including a 76-yard TD run against the Buffalo Bills.

In more real terms, we could think of Henry as the 2021 version of Ear Campbell, legendary running back for the Titans, when they were the Houston Oilers, who dominated and physically punished rivals in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Unlike Campbell, who had a relatively short career because of the physical strain he put his body to, Henry raises his production year-over-year and after rushing for 2,027 yards in 2020, he’s on pace to smash that number in 2021.

The mark for the most yards in a season belongs to Eric Dickerson with 2,105 with the Los Angeles Rams.

On paper, facing the Chiefs can help Henry take a big leap toward that goal.

The Bills defense, which entered the game against Tennessee as one of the most efficient, allowed less than 80 yards on average before facing the Titans, it is valid to consider that it will tear a Chiefs run defense that is the No. 27 in the league by allowing 133.2 yards per game.

In his last 35 games, including the Playoffs, Henry averages 126.3 yards rushing and is five games away from breaking a streak of games with at least 125 yards in league history (Terrell Davis, 1997-99).

Henry’s physical dominance is reflected in the 377 yards he adds after first contact, the highest total for a player in the first six games of a season since ESPN began recording this data in 2009.

That’s not good news for the Chiefs, who have the worst defensive blocking win rate in the running game in the NFL, meaning they break offensive blocking on only 24 percent of rushing plays.

In addition, Kansas City has allowed an average of 175 yards rushing, 5.5 per rushing and eight touchdowns in games against teams with solid ground attack (Cleveland, Baltimore and Cleveland).

Henry was a serious candidate to win the NFL MVP nomination in 2020 after surpassing 2,000 yards rushing and has three games with three rushing touchdowns this season.

If he maintains this pace and surpasses 2,000 yards for the second year in a row, even without breaking the mark for the most rushing yards in a season, Henry should win the award above any quarterback.

ESPN Stats & Information contributed to this report.


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