Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry can join some very rare company in 2022.
According to NFL.com senior researcher Jack Andrade, Henry can join a list of running backs that includes one other name — Hall of Famer Jim Brown.
Here’s what has to happen. If Henry averages 100 plus rushing yards per game in 2022, he’ll become only the second NFL running back to ever average 100 rushing yards per game in four straight seasons.
Brown accomplished the feat from 1958 through 1961.
Derrick Henry has averaged 100-plus rushing yards per game in each of the last three seasons. Only one player in NFL history has done it in four consecutive seasons: Hall of Famer Jim Brown from 1958 through 1961. Fellow Hall of Famers Eric Dickerson (five) and Barry Sanders (four) are the only other players with four total seasons with 100-plus rushing yards per game.
If Henry accomplishes this feat, it would mean that he rushed for at least 1,700 yards in 2022 (assuming he plays all 17 regular-season games). At that point, I think we can start talking about Henry as a potential Hall of Famer.
Too soon for Hall of Fame talk?
It’s actually not that crazy of a conversation. There are just two things that need to happen for Henry to have a legitimate shot to reach the Hall of Fame.
He needs to finish his career with at least 12,000 career rushing yards and 1,000 career rushing yards in the playoffs.
Every single player that has rushed for over 12,000 yards in their careers is in the Hall of Fame (except for Adrian Peterson and Frank Gore, who aren’t eligible yet). And the six players who rushed for over 1,000 career yards in the playoffs are all in the Hall of Fame as well.
Henry currently has 6,797 career rushing yards and 732 career postseason rushing yards.
If he rushes for 1,700 yards in 2022 it’ll put him at 8,467 yards. That means he’d need just 3,533 yards to get to 12,000 for his career. Henry will be 29 when the 2023 season starts. If he can perform at a moderate level for four more seasons after 2022 (through his age 32 season), he has a legitimate shot to get to 12,000 career rushing yards (he’d only need to average 883 yards per season after 2022 to get there, assuming he has a big 2022 season).
As for the post-season yardage total, as long as the Titans get to the playoffs a couple more times during Henry’s career in Nashville, he should have no problem topping 1,000 yards. He’s only 268 yards short.
Another thing working in Henry’s favor is that he’s one of only eight members of the 2,000-yard club. That’s not an automatic Hall of Fame qualifier, but five of the eight members are in the Hall of Fame. Former Titans running back Chris Johnson is Hall of Fame eligible starting this year. And Peterson, of course, isn’t eligible yet. Jamal Lewis has been retired since 2009 and is unlikely to reach the Hall of Fame.
Henry has some work to do if he wants to be a Hall of Famer, but it certainly appears to be a goal that’s within reach.
Featured image via George Walker IV / Tennessean.com / USA TODAY NETWORK