3. Here’s what a Henry/Johnson partnership looks like for Tennessee Titans fans.
In 1977, the Oakland Raiders broke the NFL record for carries in a season with 681, a record that still stands today. Much more recently, the 2019 Baltimore Ravens broke the league’s record for rushing yards in a season, finishing with 3,296.
A Tennessee Titans backfield with both Derrick Henry and Chris Johnson in his prime shatters both of those records, and they’d probably get it done before Week 11.
Backfields with a 1A and 1B running back are rarely ever made up of two bonafide stars, but the peak version of these two Titans legends are more than stars. Both are historic All-Pros who, at one point in both of their careers, stood as the best player in the league at their position. This means that both players are worthy of a high volume of reps in the offense.
Both Johnson and Henry had multiple seasons of over 300 carries, and that shows that they can shoulder a heavy load over the course of a season. That isn’t all either. Both players managed strong efficiency in those seasons. Henry peaked at 5.4 yards per carry. Johnson reached 5.6 yards per rush.
The two Titans running backs could clearly handle plenty of carries, but one has to get more than the other, and it should probably be Henry who gets the larger workload, for two reasons.
Number one, Derrick Henry gets better over time. The current Titans running back plays at his absolute best when he can wear down a defense over the course of four quarters.
With Johnson lurking in the running back room, Henry wouldn’t average the usual dose of 30 carries, but with his peak usually happening in late-game situations, after linebackers were forced to tackle Henry dozens of times over the course of the contest, El Tractorcito should be trusted with the majority of the ground reps.
Here’s the second thing to think about. Johnson’s skill set allows him to overwrite the one weakness of Henry’s game, his ability (or lack thereof) as a receiver. Johnson gets fewer carries in this parallel universe, not because he can’t handle them, but because he’s too good of a receiver to not let him shine in that role.
Still, even with that being said, both players probably get over 300 carries. For Henry, that number might hit well over 400, and with Johnson’s decreased amount of totes, hauling in 80-90 targets over the now-17-game schedule in the passing game would result in this one-two punch being a beautiful sight to witness.