Enjoy Derrick Henry’s High-Mileage Fun. History Shows It’s Unsustainable.

Tennessee Titans operating again Derrick Henry is the final American muscle automobile. He’s large, quick, highly effective, a bit of intimidating and undeniably retro-cool. But he’s not very sensible, and regardless of appearances, he’s most likely not constructed to final.

Henry rushed for two,027 yards this season, the fifth-highest complete in N.F.L. historical past. He grew to become the second operating again to eclipse 2,000 speeding yards since Chris Johnson of the Titans in 2009 and Adrian Peterson in 2012, and is simply the eighth participant in league historical past to succeed in that milestone. Henry led or tied for the lead in rushes, yards and speeding touchdowns for the second consecutive season in 2020.

Henry’s accomplishments change into much more outstanding on nearer examination. He rushed for 1,268 yards on first downs alone; that manufacturing by itself would have allowed him to complete third within the N.F.L. in complete speeding yards. Henry ran for 710 yards in his closing 4 video games, together with 250 yards because the Titans clinched the A.F.C. South with a 41-38 victory over the Houston Texans, reinforcing his fame for getting stronger because the season wears on. Pro Football Focus credit Henry with a league-high 77 eluded tackles on operating performs; Henry “eludes” most tacklers by tossing them out of the saloon just like the hero of a wild West serial, however that also counts.

A similar performance this year could vault the Titans into the Super Bowl and Henry onto a short list of all-time legends.

(The fact that usage declined at the same time that the Curse of 370 gained exposure is hardly a coincidence. N.F.L. decision makers act like high school tough guys when it comes to analytics, shouting “Math is for nerds!” at news conferences, then whispering asks for all the test answers.)

Henry’s rugged style only compounds concerns about his workload. Most modern running backs double as receivers, allowing them to work the sidelines and absorb fewer hits against smaller defenders. Henry hammers the middle of the field like a 1970s running back, turning every Sunday into a demolition derby. It’s a refreshing change of pace in a league that has strayed far from its muddy roots, and Henry certainly catches some defenders off guard by opting to run straight through them instead of around them. But between the carries and the collisions, Henry has voided the terms of his service warranty and is starting to tempt fate.

Henry must do whatever it takes to muscle the Titans way into the Super Bowl this year, because history warns that they will not get many more chances.

Source link Nytimes.com

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