Tennessee Titans: 4 Thoughts on a dream backfield featuring Henry, CJ2K

Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) /
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Tennessee Titans
Derrick Henry #22, Tennessee Titans (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

1. For Tennesee Titans fans, Derrick Henry brings the thunder.

Derrick Henry is El Tractorcito. A bulldozer of a human being who, through three seasons of being the Tennessee Titans starting running back, has specialized in embarrassing professional athletes through crushing stiff arms, relentless hit sticks, and surprising straight-line speed.

In a modernized NFL, one where the running backs who are all lucky enough to be considered stars are all also talented receivers, Derrick Henry is a throwback. New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara, Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffery, and others like them are considered the model for what a running back in 2021 is supposed to be, talented pass catchers with nimble feet and route-running skills that rival some wide receivers.

Derrick Henry is none of that, and yet, he’s been better than everyone. With just 19 catches on his 2020 resume, Henry led the NFL in yards from scrimmage on the strength of his rushing talent. In fact, standing tall with 2,141 total yards, no other player in the league came within 200 yards of catching Henry, who gained all but 114 of his yardage total on the ground.

Henry might have bricks for hands, but he makes up for that by blasting through opposing defenses like a ton of bricks through a feather factory. Bringing Henry down at first contact is a rare achievement, and even when defenses get to him, his size and strength make him an efficiency monster.

Henry averaged just 2.5 yards before contact in 2020 on his 327 total carries but finished with nearly three more total yards per rush at 5.4. That puts him ahead of all but three regular starting running backs.

Henry’s physicality has made him a menace in red-zone situations, with 13 of his league-leading 17 total touchdowns coming from within 20 yards. Eight of them came from within the five, but that ability to blow past arm tackles has made him a big-play threat as well. He was the NFL’s leader in runs of 20-plus yards in 2020. He had 16 of those, and he also had a share of the league lead in runs of 40-plus yard runs with four.

Derrick Henry isn’t just the NFL’s premier power back. He’s the league’s premier running back overall, and in this universe, he’s the thunder to CJ2K’s lightning.