Can Derrick Henry run the Tennessee Titans to the Super Bowl

Tennessee Titans (Mandatory Credit: The Tennessean)
Tennessee Titans (Mandatory Credit: The Tennessean) /
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Tennessee Titans
Tennessee Titans (Mandatory Credit: Florida Times-Union) /

What will Henry’s return look like for the Tennessee Titans?

To a certain degree with Henry coming off the most rest of his career and being firmly in his prime, it would be a disappointment if he was outrushed by anyone else this year if he stays healthy. Emphasis on “If”.

The hopes of the Tennessee Titans rely on Derrick Henry and Derrick Henry’s hopes rely on his ability to sustain an unprecedented workload for a running back.

Despite his foot injury last season, if you ask a Tennessee Titans fan whether they are concerned about Derrick Henry or not you will get some version of, “Don’t worry, Henry is just built different, it’s nothing.” But according to the medical analysis, the outlook is not promising.

A 2018 study published in the Orthopedic Journal of Sports explained, “Performance scores for players with (Jones) fractures were lower than those for controls across all positions, with a significant difference in running backs”.

Essentially, the medical odds are against Henry. But Henry has rarely had issues with surpassing expectations.

Despite what the science tells us, let’s not forget that Deebo Samuel suffered a Jones fracture in 2020 and he simply went on to be one of the best players in the league last year following that injury.

But injuries are like a bad Grateful Dead cover band, there is no rhyme or reason. It’s impossible to say whether Henry or any other player will be healthy all year. If he does have an entirely healthy year, there is no doubt Henry will be disappointed if he does not approach 2000 yards again this year.

As it stands, the offense looks poised to be very… very run-heavy. The wide receiver core is largely unproven and their best receiver is credited as one of the best run-blocking receivers in the NFL.

In addition, by adding a strong hybrid pass-catching/blocking tight end in Austin Hooper and drafting Chigoziem Okonkwo, who appears to be emerging as a legitimate contributor with his athleticism, we could see lots of heavy two-tight end formations this year. That is, more than usual even for the Titans.

The defensive side of the roster has largely been carried over from last year and if they have anywhere remotely close to the success they had last year then the offense’s success will ride on Henry’s success.

So, the closer Henry gets to 2,000 yards on the season the chances of a successful year exponentially increases. It’s not a complicated formula.

Clearly, the team is counting on its ability to bully and dictate the game with a hefty run game. But that’s no surprise since it’s a formula that’s worked for the last three years.