JACKSONVILLE — The Tennessee Titans accomplished what needed to be done in their 37-19 road win in Jacksonville on Sunday. Running back Derrick Henry continues to literally carry them through their deficiencies on a Hall-of-Fame pace.
Outside of tightening their grip on the AFC South, the best news for Tennessee is that their league-leading rushing attack still has room for improvement.
Through five games of the 2021 season, Henry has 640 yards and seven touchdowns. The Titans featured back racked up 130 yards and three scores in Sunday’s victory over the Jaguars alone. It was the fifth (!) time that the Heisman trophy-winner from Alabama has accumulated 100+ rushing yards and 3+ touchdowns since entering the NFL in 2016.
The performance tied Henry with Adrian Peterson and Joe Morris for the third-most such games by a player in his first six seasons in the Super Bowl era, per NFL 345.
Henry and the Titans can be even better
Dominant does not even do the former second-round pick justice this year.
Through Sunday, only two players in the league had scored more points than Henry’s 44. Both are kickers. According to ESPN Stats & Info, he is the second player in NFL history to have 100 or more yards rushing and three or more touchdowns in multiple games within the first five games of a season. The last time such a feat was accomplished was Jim Brown in 1958.
Tennessee knows it can do even better by him.
“This whole team loves Derrick,” said left tackle Taylor Lewan. “I love Derrick. He’s a great guy. He wants to win, he wants to play well, but he could have 20 yards and as long as we win, that’s all he cares about. I’m a huge fan of Derrick Henry. Have been for a long time, and I’m just happy he’s on our team, man. I really am. I love being around the guy. He’s a good friend. I’m really happy for him. The way he comes out and works every single week, there’s a reason why he’s captain. I voted for him as captain. I think he’s a stud. And we know what we’re capable of. And the crazy thing is, from a rushing standpoint, as an offensive line, we could do way better. We’ve played way better in the past. We’re leaving a lot of the meat on the bone right now, and we know that as an offensive line.”
What makes the Titans rushing attack even more impressive is that everyone knows that it is coming.
Henry faced eight or more defenders on 16 of his 29 carries in Jacksonville, per NextGen Stats. Two of his three scores on Sunday came when facing said stacked box. Henry leads the NFL in rushing touchdowns so far in 2021 and has finished the last two regular season atop that category as well.
For the third consecutive year, he also finds the end zone against 8+ in box more than any other player in the sport (5).
“Any time you play the Titans, you’re going to be focused on stopping Derrick Henry,” Jaguars coach Urban Meyer said. “It’s going to be game over if you don’t stop him. For the most part, we did a decent job, but there were plays we gave up. Then the third downs, we just couldn’t get them off the field.”
Meyer’s team did keep Henry from breaking an individual gain longer than 15 yards, but that was about it.
To his credit, though, precious few defenses have been able to hold the one they call King down. Since claiming the role as Tennessee’s starter in 2018, Henry has the most rushing yards over a 40-game stretch in NFL History (4,792). The names that he sits ahead of: Jim Brown (4,759), O.J. Simpson (4,739), Terrell Davis (4,597) and Eric Dickerson (4,594), per CBS Sports.
Henry is an unstoppable force. He has yet to meet the immovable object.
Featured Image: USA TODAY Sports