Tennessee Titans need a heavier dose of Derrick Henry in Week 2

Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

The Tennessee Titans needed Derrick Henry to show up in their season opener against the Arizona Cardinals, but it’s not his fault he didn’t. The entire Titans team flailed against Kyle Murray’s and Chandler Jones’ ruthless performances, and what was supposed to be Julio Jones’ dazzling debut turned rancid very quickly.

The game may have been over as early as halftime, with Arizona leading 24-6, and it was too big of a hole for even Henry to climb out of.

Henry rushed for just 58 yards on 17 carries and hardly made a dent in the heavily lopsided game. Keep in mind this is the league’s rushing king who finished with over 2,000 yards and 17 touchdowns last season.

The Cardinals’ D-line can pat themselves on the back for a job well done in stopping the stiff-armed bulldozer that is Derrick Henry, but Henry knows he can do better. He has to do better if the Titans want to avoid another utterly embarrassing loss.

After the game, Henry told reporters that the Titans team they saw that afternoon “definitely wasn’t us” and that the team is working to improve for next week.

One of the many areas of improvement for Tennessee is simply being smarter in the way they use Henry. On Sunday, too many times, he was stopped by the Cardinals’ walled-up defense as he tried to avoid tackles and ram through players for a score.

Tennessee Titans need to figure out how to maximize Derrick Henry’s efficiency

There’s no question that Henry can outrun and outstep everyone on the field…in space. It’s during these short-yardage situations that Henry struggles to push through the pile and win head-on matchups.

That’s not his skill set, anyway. The Titans are better off letting fullback Khari Blasingame try his luck at smashing his way to the endzone. On other downs, the Titans can instead find more open areas for Henry to build up speed and momentum, whip out that stiff arm, and do his thing.

Last season, Henry has a long of 94 rushing yards. In 2018, he had a long of 99. This man can stretch his legs all the way down the field, but when it comes to brute-forcing a few yards into a stacked box, Henry might be too valuable (and talented) for that kind of work.

However the Titans choose to use Henry, they need to think about optimizing his game, otherwise, they’re just making things harder for themselves.

Tennessee should have showcased one of its deadliest offenses on Sunday, but they got sat down. Hard.

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With Julio Jones, A.J. Brown, Ryan Tannehill, and Henry, the Tennessee Titans can make all the excuses in the world for why they struggled against Arizona — Taylor Lewan, lack of sufficient practice time, the pandemic, to name a few, but Henry knows what the ‘real’ Titans’ team looks like, and it definitely isn’t this.

Tennessee has the chance to redeem themselves against the Seattle Seahawks, and for the sake of fantasy football teams everywhere, the Titans need to unleash the beast in Derrick Henry.