Is Derrick Henry’s Game Sustainable?
Derrick Henry is the best running back in the NFL. He has more yards after contact than any other back has total yards in the last two seasons, and is a complete nightmare for opposing defenses.
Henry's incredible blend of monstrous size and elite speed make him one of the most uniquely skilled backs the league has ever seen, but is his playstyle sustainable?
2020 saw Henry carry the ball 378 times, good for an average of just under 24 attempts per game, and finish with 2,027 rushing yards. In just four games of the 2021 season, the sixth year back has already surpassed 100 carries and is on pace for 540 rushing attempts, which would shatter the current NFL record of 416 by Larry Johnson in 2006.
Obviously, King Henry is no stranger to getting a lot of touches; in his junior season at Alabama, Henry rushed the ball 398 times in 15 games, leading to a lot of questions regarding his sustained durability in the NFL.
Since being drafted; however, Henry has shown zero signs of slowing down and has, in fact, gotten stronger in the last three seasons, finishing with well over 1,000 yards in each.
Though off to a solid start in 2021, Tennessee has been forced to rely on Henry much more in the early season than in year's past due to injuries in the wide receiver core, and that could spell trouble for the boys in two-tone blue.
It's no secret that Henry has utilized the last half of the last two seasons to truly impose his will at running back, using his size and strength to simply outmuscle tired opposing defenses. This level of use and production at this point of the season is something that has never been seen by an NFL running back, and if anyone can maintain it, Henry certainly can.
While Henry is likely the only back that could ever sustain such a massive workload, the Titans will still need to find ways to spread the ball around more effectively if they want any shot at a deep playoff run.
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