The NFL is the ultimate “what have you done for me lately?” league and that is clear when you look at the disrespect that Tennessee Titans star running back Derrick Henry is getting.
This isn’t an article arguing how the talking heads in the national media view Derrick Henry. Instead, consider this a PSA of where Derrick Henry’s career is right now and just how close he is to becoming the best running back in Tennessee Titans’/Houston Oilers’ history.
Jim Wyatt released some of the analysis from the pre-game capsule on Derrick Henry and it shows just how close he is to reaching the number of total touchdowns that Eddie George and Earl Campbell posted in franchise history.
To zoom in on that even further, I went back and checked out how each running back looked through the first seven seasons of their career and what their numbers look like compared to Henry’s.
Historical context for Derrick Henry
2022 will be Henry’s seventh season with the Tennessee Titans, but people tend to forget that he really didn’t earn the full-time starter role until 2019. So the numbers you are about to see are what Henry was able to do in 1,401 career rushing attempts compared to 2,029 attempts by Eddie George and 2,371 attempts by Earl Campbell over that time.
Eddie George 1996-2002: 8,978 rushing yards, 59 rushing touchdowns, 128 games started
Earl Campbell 1978-1984: 8,574 rushing yards, 73 rushing touchdowns, 90 games started
Derrick Henry 2016-2022: 6,797 rushing yards, 65 rushing touchdowns, 55 games started
As you can see, Henry is already in second place in franchise rushing touchdowns with 65 and he only needs 8 more touchdowns to become the Tennessee Titans’ all-time leader.
While Henry still needs 1,778 rushing yards to be the second all-time rusher for the Titans and 2,182 rushing yards to be the new franchise record holder, remember what I said earlier about his career volume.
Since he is 970 rushing attempts behind Earl Campbell, Henry could be the all-time leading rusher by 300 yards if he just averaged 2.5 yards per attempt over the next 970 carries.
The last time that Derrick Henry had less than 220 rushing attempts was in 2018 and he followed that season up by winning the rushing title in back-to-back years. While I don’t expect Henry to replicate his 2,000-yard season from 2020, it shouldn’t surprise anyone to see him end up with 1,600 or 1,800 yards on the ground over a 17-game season.
With motivation, a better offensive line (which isn’t saying a lot), a less obvious offense, and more rest than he has had in half of a decade, Henry could finish 2022 as the franchise leader in touchdowns and second in rushing yards despite being hundreds of carries behind George and Campbell.
A season like that would leave no doubt that Henry was the greatest running back in franchise history and it would solidify his argument for the Hall of Fame. The question isn’t whether or not a healthy Derrick Henry could put up numbers like that this year, it is whether or not he is fully healthy.
To this point, all the news on that front has been positive and every game he puts on his pads is another step towards franchise history.