Tennessee Titans strengths and weaknesses: Running Backs

Derrick Henry #22, Tennessee Titans (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Derrick Henry #22, Tennessee Titans (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /
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How good are the Tennessee Titans at running back?

In the last article, we examined the Tennessee Titans’ quarterback situation and determined the group is a net strength for the team. This time, we’ll discuss the running backs room.

The top of the pecking order features Derrick Henry, AKA King Henry. Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat; Henry is still the NFL’s best running back, and by a wide margin.

There’s little drama as to whether or not he contributes to the team’s championship goals. A two-time NFL rushing champion, Henry was well on his way to a third consecutive rushing title before suffering a Jones fracture in his right foot.

He missed the remainder of the regular season but returned for the Cincinnati Bengals playoff debacle. Despite a hype-filled week of anticipation on the part of fans and media, Henry was largely ineffective and never looked himself.

By all accounts, Henry’s rehab has gone well. The big guy seems poised for another monster season and the Titans desperately need him to come up big again. It’s no secret the Titans’ offense goes through the King.

The ripple effect Derrick Henry has on the Tennessee Titans’ offense

Tennessee Titans
Tennessee Titans /

Tennessee Titans Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

That’s why teams play with eight men in the box against him more than any other back in the league. Whether or not he is making big plays at the time, Mike Vrabel and company have shown that they are willing to run it 15, 20, 25, or more times knowing that the next one could be the 50+ yarder.

Defenses seem to crowd the box knowing that the Tennessee Titans will refuse to move away from Henry no matter what is happening which has led to the idea that stopping Henry means that you will stop the Titans’ offense.

There is some truth to that notion. In this previous Titan Sized article, I outlined how the team averaged a full TD less per game without him in the lineup and how his absence affected Ryan Tannehill’s production.

We could spend plenty of time and digital space covering Henry’s Herculean exploits since asserting himself as “the man” during the 2019 season, but suffice it to say, he’s walked (or ran) in rarified air among Hall of Famers since that time.

The biggest concern with Henry is his health. Where is he in terms of full recovery, and will he be the same player he was before the injury? I wouldn’t bet against Superman having some magic left in those tree trunks mere humans call legs.