Like clockwork, the fourth quarter is Derrick Henry’s time to feast. It’s when tiring defenses dread having to bring down the Tennessee Titans’ 245-pound running back built like a linebacker.
That happened to the Indianapolis Colts Sunday in their 20-16 loss to the Titans, who counted on Henry to lift up a dead running game for a game-winning touchdown drive.
When asked about his punishing running style after the game, Henry smiled, soaked it in a bit and said, “Did it look like I was running angry? I’m just trying to make plays.”
Yes, Derrick. It looked like you were running angry, and when you get downhill, most NFL players don’t want to tackle you. That desire decreases even more when Henry is delivering a nasty stiff-arm.
“I used to be the stiff-arm king, but I think Derrick Henry took that crown from me,” tight end Delanie Walker said. “Every time he stiff-arms somebody I am amazed at how hard he runs. I am just happy to have him on my team.”
But why do the Titans have to wait until the fourth quarter for Henry to cook? Why does the Titans’ offense wait until the fourth quarter to play its best ball? Tennessee can’t abandon the running game, and as we saw Sunday, it reaps big rewards when it sticks to it. So to shake it up, let Henry take it from the jump.
“When you have a back like that you can lean on, it’s very pivotal and we’re very fortunate to have him,” Marcus Mariota said.
Except the Titans have to do just that, lean on Henry. My proposition: fully embrace Henry and his ideal running style, the outside zone, for better or worse.
In the Titans’ four games since the bye week, DeMarco Murray has 43 carries for 80 yards, 1.9 yards per carry. Henry has 39 carries for 189 yards, 4.8 yards per carry. Henry is the Titans’ leading rusher with 520 yards, 4.6 yards per carry. Murray has 452 rushing yards on 15 more carries, for an average of 3.5 yards per carry.
It’s becoming more apparent that Henry should get more carries while Murray transitions into a still-important role in which his pass blocking, receiving and knack for reaching the end zone can be utilized better.
Neither running back will have maximum success until the offensive line plays up to its potential for four quarters and gets more push inside. Henry has made the most from what the backs have been given because of his ability to break tackles and bounce outside effectively.
“I’m just trying to make reads. I feel like as the game goes on, the more carries I get, the more I get a feel for it,” Henry said.
So give him the rock.
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