For those who have been paying attention, rookie running back Tyjae Spears has been impressive all season. Coming into the season, the majority of the fan base thought that Spears was going to be a nice supplement to Derrick Henry and that he was going to work himself into a role as the third-down back.
Once he proved that he could fill that role early in training camp, he was given more and more chances to carry the ball. Despite limited opportunities, Spears has made the most of his touches and he has proven that he isn't just Dontrell Hilliard 2.0.
Through the first four weeks of the season, Spears had done a good job using his quickness and vision to turn one-yard runs into four-yard runs, and four-yard runs into nine-yard runs. On Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts, he finally broke one for a big gain with a 19-yard touchdown on a reverse.
When you stack his production up against Derrick Henry's, it isn't even really close. Spears has averaged 5.8 yards per attempt which is two full yards more than Henry's 3.8, Spears is scoring touchdowns on 3.7% of his carries compared to Henry scoring on 2.3% of his touches, and Spears is getting first downs on 33.3% of his runs compared to Henry's rate of 19.8%
Shocking stat for Tennessee Titans fans
Now, the common argument against this is that Henry gets so much more attention and faces stacked boxes more often than Spears. Surprisingly, that isn't actually true.
Those graphs show that Spears is just playing better than Henry right now, regardless of what the defense is doing.
Maybe Derrick Henry will kick it into 4th gear again in December like he has done in the past, but can this Tennessee Titans team really wait until December? If they don't make adjustments (and quickly), they are going to be out of playoff contention by Thanksgiving.
For the record, I'm not suggesting benching Derrick Henry, but a 50/50 split makes more sense than some of the fan base seems to realize and that is fine. Discarding the emotional attachement to Derrick Henry for a minute, this is what the Tennessee Titans needed to see.
With Henry likely gone after this season, Spears is giving Tennessee Titans fans hope for a dynamic running game in 2024. With a QB change coming and several new faces, that stability and familiarity will be a big bonus.