Derrick Henry has been working into numerous NFL data, and now he is a sport away from becoming a member of one other unique group.
Solely six males have led the NFL in dashing in consecutive seasons because the league went to a 16-game season, and nobody has managed that feat since LaDainian Tomlinson went again to again in 2006 and 2007.
Tomlinson believes it is a foregone conclusion that Henry will be part of that group when the common season ends Sunday.
“It’s fairly exceptional to have the ability to do it, to name your self back-to-back dashing champs,” Tomlinson stated. “It’s a small elite membership, and it’s an enormous deal. So … I’m wishing him the very best. I’m rooting for him.”
Henry led the NFL with 1,540 yards dashing final season earlier than working the Tennessee Titans to their first AFC championship sport in 17 years. Henry simply has topped that with 1,777 yards, placing him 220 forward of Minnesota’s Dalvin Prepare dinner going into Sunday’s regular-season finale at Houston (4-11).
Not that the two-time Professional Bowler and 2015 Heisman Trophy winner tracks yards as he tries to run the Titans to their first Tremendous Bowl in 21 seasons.
“Probably not anxious about stats,” Henry stated. “Nervous about successful. Stats are stats however we’re anxious about successful. How can we assist contribute to us successful a soccer sport? Neglect the stats.”
The 6-foot-3, 247-pound Henry is disproving the NFL pattern of pass-happy offenses with working backs devalued as replaceable elements not price contract extensions. The Titans made clear how a lot they worth Henry by signing him to a four-year deal price as much as $50 million in July.
That solely made Henry a much bigger goal this season.
Adrian Peterson led the NFL in dashing three separate seasons however by no means consecutively. He stated that is why being the highest rusher in back-to-back seasons is so laborious, particularly when mixed with so many gifted working backs within the league.
“You by no means know who’s going to come back out and have an amazing 12 months,” Peterson stated. “Particularly that subsequent 12 months when your identify is what it’s and also you’re Derrick Henry. Groups are coming in, they’re making an attempt to cease you, and that proper there makes it much more spectacular to see what he is been in a position to accomplish.”
Henry, who turns 27 on Monday, has improved his dashing yards per sport every of his 5 seasons within the NFL. He averaged 102.7 yards per sport final season, and Henry’s even higher in 2020, working for 118.5 yards a sport in 2020.
He is additionally upped his common per carry every of the previous three seasons and at the moment is at 5.2 yards a carry.
That manufacturing when defenses pack eight and 9 defenders close to the road making an attempt to cease him is why Tomlinson thinks Henry is that this technology’s Jim Brown.
“Individuals shouldn’t take that as, ‘Oh, my God, what a quote,’” Tomlinson stated. “It’s literal reality what he’s doing and the best way he runs the ball similar to Jim Brown again within the day who was going to get the ball. You knew that he was going to have it 20-plus occasions, however might you cease him? And folks can not.”
Tomlinson stated that is as a result of Henry has traits of a smaller runner with velocity, quickness out and in of the opening together with nice ft, imaginative and prescient and a “grasp stiff arm.” Mixed with Henry’s dimension, Tomlinson stated that provides as much as a comparability to Brown.
“He’s this technology’s Jim Brown, and he’s backing it up as a result of he’s persistently now over time placing collectively numbers to again up that he’s top-of-the-line,” Tomlinson stated.
Peterson sees a few of former Titans working again Eddie George in Henry, with each 6-3, together with a few of Terrell Davis, who ran for two,008 yards in 1998 throughout a decade dominated by Barry Sanders and Emmitt Smith.
“He’s greater than linebackers, so that you have a look at what he did to Josh Norman was similar to …” Peterson stated of the Henry stiff arm that despatched the Buffalo cornerback flying in October. “I do know when individuals watch movie on him they gotta come strapped up and able to wrap up.”
The massive fear is the workload taking a toll. Henry had 386 carries mixed in 2019 counting the playoffs, and he is at 344 now.
Tomlinson had a minimum of 300 carries in seven of his 11-year profession. Peterson has had 4 300-carry seasons.
Professional Soccer Corridor of Famer Earl Campbell, the one working again in franchise historical past to guide the NFL in dashing multiple 12 months, had a minimum of 300 carries as he led the league his first three seasons.
Tomlinson stated working backs recurrently used to hold 300 occasions or extra a 12 months. Peterson sees Henry avoiding hits.
“He is punishing different guys, and it’s an enormous distinction once you’re carrying the ball that many occasions with the ability to be the man that’s initiating these blows,” Peterson stated.
Henry begins his offseason early every year working together with his coach to maintain pushing his conditioning degree. As soon as soccer begins, Henry hardly ever stops, catching passes or typically working in a sand pit when he is not concerned in drills. And sure, Henry retains lifting weights all through the season.
“He is tremendously blessed,” Titans working backs coach Tony Dews stated. “He has some God-given skills after which clearly his dimension helps him.”
Henry additionally has an added contact. Simply watch him on TV the subsequent time he breaks away within the open discipline.
“His eyes are at all times broad each time that he runs the ball, interval,” Titans left guard Rodger Saffold stated. “You are taking an image of his face anytime you see him run, you possibly can see that.”