In 2008, the Tennessee Titans started the regular season 10-0 and finished 13-3, clinching home field advantage throughout the playoffs. That year, the team was led by the league’s most exciting running back duo known as “Smash and Dash”, AKA Lendale White and Chris Johnson. Fast forward to today and the Titans find themselves with another set of exciting running backs known as “Thunder and Thunder”, AKA DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. Let’s look at how these sets of running backs compare, I’ll only be using the 2008 season for “Smash and Dash” because this is the first season of “Thunder and Thunder”.
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2008 was Chris Johnson’s (Dash) rookie year. He broke the NFL combine record in the 40 yard dash by running a 4.24, something he takes a lot of pride in to this day. That year, he ran for 1228 yards, 4.9 yards per carry, and 9 touchdowns. I’d have to say he is probably the most exciting player I’ve ever seen. He ran past defenders making them look like they were standing still, and once he got past them he made them look as if they were running in slow motion. Since then, he’s broken all kinds of NFL records and became known as CJ2k.
Lendale White (Smash) ran for 773 yards, 3.9 yards per carry, and 15 touchdowns. He ran with power and determination, and was nearly unstoppable at the goal line, as you can see by the touchdown total. Although he was big, he wasn’t slow and he had his fair share of big runs that year too.
DeMarco Murray (Thunder 1) has really been refreshing for Titans fans. He has a good mix of speed, power and shiftiness. He’s on track for 1512 yards this season, 4.7 yards per carry and 12 touchdowns. He’s a leader on the field and in the locker room, and is a big part of the reason this team is doing better this year.
Derrick Henry (Thunder 2) was drafted in the second round at 45th overall. He’s big and he’s fast. Many players mistake him for a defensive end. He can win with power up the middle or with speed to the edge. He’s on track for 442 yards, 4.2 yards per carry and two touchdowns.
The difference in these two teams is the Titans today are built to win low scoring, close games. They’re made to wear down defenses over the course of four quarters. I expect Derrick Henry to have more than two touchdowns, but DeMarco is clearly the lead back and Marcus Mariota is a very good red zone quarterback, so that stat line might lack a little bit.
Smash and Dash could win in low scoring games wearing defenses out with Lendale White or win in those high scoring affairs with Chris Johnson. It seems both styles work(ed) in their own way, and the run game will always be one of the things Tennessee is known for, especially with the likes of Eddie George, Steve McNair, Vince Young, etc.