Derrick Henry May Return, but Not His Shot at These Records

4 weeks ago 31

Keeping Score

After falling conscionable shy of Eric Dickerson’s grounds successful 2020, Henry’s gait and an added regular play crippled gave him different shot. An injured ft volition thwart his pursuit of that full and others.

Titans moving  backmost  Derrick Henry hurt his close    ft  Sunday successful  Tennessee’s 34-31 overtime triumph  astatine  Indianapolis.
Credit...Zach Bolinger/Associated Press

Ben ShpigelKevin Quealy

Nov. 2, 2021, 12:01 a.m. ET

Though it’s imaginable a facsimile of Derrick Henry exists successful Palau oregon Kyrgyzstan oregon successful immoderate astral plane, determination has ne'er been an N.F.L. moving backmost arsenic gangly arsenic Henry, arsenic heavy arsenic Henry and arsenic swift arsenic Henry. That information has been mostly truly bully for the Tennessee Titans and truly atrocious for everyone else.

Those who autumn nether the Everyone Else heading volition get an indefinite reprieve from Henry’s play stampedes aft helium wounded his close ft Sunday successful Tennessee’s 34-31 overtime triumph astatine Indianapolis. He is scheduled to acquisition country Tuesday and determination isn’t yet a timetable for his return. Henry’s lack is simply a monstrous nonaccomplishment for the Titans (6-2), for his pursuit of a half-dozen rushing marks, and for those who bask watching big, strong, accelerated radical bash absurd things with a football. Which should beryllium everyone who is not liable for tackling him.

Henry led the league successful rushing attempts, rushing yardage and rushing touchdowns successful 2019. He led the league successful those categories successful 2020. Eight weeks into this season, helium leads successful each of them again.

Those statistic — 219 rushes, 937 yards, 10 touchdowns this play — erstwhile signified committedness and potential, the anticipation of Henry’s trampling records and defenders to station 1 of the champion rushing seasons ever. Now the numbers, arsenic if connected a breached odometer, are stuck arsenic is, improbable to swell again successful 2021.

Henry had been not lone matching his 2020 show — erstwhile helium rushed for the fifth-most yards successful a azygous play league past — but was outpacing each different backmost by specified immense margins that it was tenable to wonderment whether they were each playing the aforesaid sport.

Guess what? They benignant of weren’t.

In a league wherever high-volume moving backs person faded arsenic teams question to instrumentality vantage of rules that payment quarterbacks and passing offenses, the Titans person been, unabashedly, an anachronism. Their violative individuality has centered connected handing the ball, implicit and over, to the 6-foot-3, 247-pound Henry.

Tennessee runs the shot much connected archetypal and 2nd down (55 percent) than immoderate squad but Chicago and New Orleans, according to Sharp Football Stats — acold much than the league mean of 46 percent successful those situations. In an effort to incorporate him, defenses sometimes deploy 8 of their 11 players successful the box, the compressed country mostly occupied by antiaircraft linemen and linebackers. Henry has faced those alleged stacked boxes astatine a greater complaint (36.5) than everyone but Mark Ingram, Christian McCaffrey and Elijah Mitchell, according to N.F.L.’s Next Gen Stats and the other attraction deters neither Tennessee nor him.

After moving 28 times Sunday against Indianapolis to bring his play full to 219, Henry has the astir carries done the archetypal 8 games of the season, according to Pro Football Reference.

Cumulative rushing yards, crippled by game

Before his ft injury, Derrick Henry was connected gait to tally for much full yards than immoderate subordinate successful years.

Source: Pro Football Reference·Includes the apical 50 rushers successful each play from 1970 to 2021. Through Sunday night’s Week 8 games.

He has gained 288 much yards than the next-closest moving back, Jonathan Taylor of the Indianapolis Colts, and has carried the shot 82 much times than the next-closest moving back, Joe Mixon of the Cincinnati Bengals.

In the tiny subset of N.F.L. backs that approximate Henry’s dimensions, nary nutrient similar helium does. Cookie Gilchrist, listed by Pro Football Reference arsenic 6-foot-3 and 251 pounds, ran for 1,096 yards for Buffalo successful 1962 successful a 14-game American Football League season. Henry astir doubled that full past season, erstwhile helium rushed for 2,027 successful 16 games.

Of his rushing yards, the immense bulk person travel aft contact. Although precocious statistical sites look to disagree connected the nonstop number, Pro Football Focus said that Henry had piled up 728 aft being deed — 265 much than Taylor, who has the second-most this season.

Really, there’s hardly a statistic applicable to Henry that helium isn’t commanding. Touches? By a batch (237). Yards from scrimmage? Check (1,091). Total touchdowns (10, tied with Rams receiver Cooper Kupp), all-purpose yardage (1,091), archetypal downs (49). Yup, yup and yup.

Considering that the passing gyration has assailed N.F.L. annals implicit the past 2 decades, it figured that the league’s determination to a 17-game docket would hasten the demise of the single-season quarterbacking marks near standing. The other crippled has besides made attainable the moving records that person stood for astir 40 years.

Henry has been a paragon of durability, missing lone 2 of 88 vocation games earlier his ft injury, but besides a beacon of late-season awesomeness: Across 2019 and 2020, according to Pro Football Reference, helium averaged 4.2 yards per unreserved and 88.9 yards per crippled successful September and October. His averages vaulted to 6 yards per unreserved and 136.6 per crippled implicit the remainder of the season. With 1 much crippled added, those lofty rushing records stood arsenic small accidental arsenic Henry’s tacklers.

Instead, Henry volition miss the regular play months erstwhile helium seems to get stronger. There volition beryllium nary opportunities for him to stiff-arm the Patriots successful the late-autumn New England chill (Week 12) oregon to flatten the Steelers successful frosty Pittsburgh (Week 15) oregon batter the 49ers astatine location successful prime-time (Week 16).

As such, Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing people of 2,105 yards successful 1984 remains harmless for different year. So volition Larry Johnson’s 416 carries (2006), and James Wilder’s 492 touches (1984) and adjacent Chris Johnson’s 2,509 yards from scrimmage (2009).

Henry could person breached them all. Maybe helium inactive volition — adjacent season.

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