Tennessee Titans: Can Derrick Henry break single-season rushing record?

Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans (Mandatory Credit: Imagn Images photo pool)
Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans (Mandatory Credit: Imagn Images photo pool) /

One of the common topics of conversation recently come draft time, whether you’re a Tennessee Titans fan or a fan of any of the other 31 NFL teams centers around the fact that running backs aren’t getting the same love they used to. Perhaps, it’s because it’s the most punishing position in all of the NFL.

These days, running backs, unless they’re seen as the second coming of Adrian Peterson, aren’t being valued or getting taken in the selection meeting as highly as they once were. Even if teams choose to add one, it’s smart for teams to have a nice rotation or a stable.

Otherwise, these tailbacks just aren’t playing as long as they used to. If you’re a fan of the Tennessee Titans, you needn’t look any further than the careers of both Eddie George and Chris Johnson aka CJ2K for evidence of that one.

Neither George nor Johnson had a career of longer than ten NFL seasons, and even though Johnson’s ten-year run eclipsed the nine years George played, both had clearly played past the realm of normal wear and tear by the time we got to their twilight years as NFL stars. That’s why Titans fans are somewhat worried about Derrick Henry.

The Tennessee Titans star has a shot at the single-season rushing crown.

It’s hard to imagine this being possible now, but even though it feels like Derrick Henry had to have been a top-five selection, he was actually the Tennessee Titans’ fourth draft choice and a second-round selection in 2016. How many NFL teams do you think are second-guessing that decision?

Tennessee had four picks in the first two rounds, and with their first three, they took an offensive lineman (Jack Conklin at eight), a linebacker (Kevin Dodd at 33), and a defensive tackle (Austin Johnson at 43). Henry’s selection came two spots after Johnson’s at 45.

That 45th selection worked out pretty well for the two-tone blue as Henry’s trophy case is already the stuff of legend. He’s a two-time Pro Bowler, a two-time rushing champion, and a two-time rushing touchdowns leader, not to mention a Second-team All-Pro in 2019.

He was also given the nod as a First-team All-Pro in 2020 and the NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 2020. He also joined the NFL’s 2,000-yard club last season, and no one believes he can’t repeat that feat again in 2021. He’s that good.

Can he pass Eric Dickerson’s mark of 2,105 yards though? That’s the question. The answer is yes, especially if the Titans give Derrick Henry a heavy workload again this season.

It’s hard to state the Titans should give the ball to Henry less often, but there’s also a desire, as a fan, to see him play for a long time as well. So, on one hand, It would be wise for Tennessee to spell him from time to time to keep him fresh, but on the other, there has to be some balance. This guy can break one at any time, and that’s a trend that should continue during the 2021-2022 campaign.

No one’s saying the wise theory is to freeze King Henry out of the Titans offense, especially when he’s just entering his prime and has an opportunity in 2021 to break the single-season rushing record. Doing that wouldn’t just give Henry another individual honor. It will, no doubt, set the Titans up nicely for a division title and a deep playoff run as well.

ESPN’s Bill Barnwell hasn’t made any bold predictions, but in a recent story he dropped, he names King Henry as the favorite to break Dickerson’s mark if that record was to fall this season. You need a subscription to ESPN+ to read that one, but trust and believe, it’s worth the price of admission.

Related Story. 3 Expectations for Derrick Henry in 2021. light

Let’s just put things this way. Here are a few thoughts that can corroborate any theories that end with a thought of the Tennessee Titans star being the NFL’s single-season rushing champion.

The addition of Julio Jones means teams can’t stack the box. The 17th game also gives the Titans offense an additional game to make some magic happen. Couple that with an average of over five yards per rush that Henry has racked up over the past two seasons, and there’s plenty of ammunition to back the idea that Tennessee Titans fans can be witnesses to history in 2021.