By Alex Lewis (@alexlewis226)
Enforced, beheaded, died, enforced, decleated, taken-for-a-ride.
Derrick Henry, or King Henry as most now know him, is an animal on the field with the ability to physically dominate anybody that goes within touching distance of a football field.
You can stack the box, employ the National Guard, or even put extra-men on the field and ill bet you any money or commodities that he still falls forwards for a seven-yard gain.
Sure, Christian McCaffery will get you 1000 touches a game, and Aaron Jones can get you four touchdowns in Jerry World, but Derrick Henry is the true definition of power back.
His build is totally unique at the position; 6 foot 3 inches, 250 pounds and absolutely rapid in the open field, it’s literally no wonder that defensive backs barely slow him down.
To try and describe it, take the biggest wardrobe you have, have it placed at the top of a steep hill and then wait for it at the bottom with a hard hat on.
That’s what it is like trying to stop King Henry when he’s at top speed, so give Earl Thomas some slack for turning around rather than face a tackle.
Point is, that the running back in Tennessee should be the highest paid in the league for at least four years.
“But Henry isn’t nearly as good in the passing game like Christian McCaffery?”
The biggest knock on King Henry and his crown as the best running back, is his inability/lack of experience in catching the ball out of the back field as a dual threat.
And to a degree, that’s a relevant point, teams are far less likely to stack the box against someone like Christian McCaffery knowing the damage he can do on a screen play.
Despite Henry’s improvement this year with 200+ receiving yards for the first time, including a 75-yard touchdown, it doesn’t take much to see that Henry is not as much of a threat when the ball is pulled out of his belly.
However, if you put your Bill Belichick hat on for a second, you can quickly see that this lack of action in the passing game is in fact potentially protecting him from Todd Gurley syndrome.
The LA Rams have lost a large chunk of their investment in Gurley as his body has failed to fully live up to the rigours of his second, big contract.
Over the first four years of his career, Henry had a total of 861 touches of the ball during regular season football in Tennessee, in comparison, Todd Gurley racked up nearly 1233 total touches over that same spell.
That lack of touches in his early career wasn’t intended as an attempt to conserve his body, but by chance, and with the touches unlikely to go much higher than this year, Henry might be the back most likely to give you the most of a big, long-term contract.
“But surely Saquon Barkley deserves a bigger contract when it becomes time?”
I’m not so sure about this either.
I absolutely love Barkley, he’s an unbelievable athletic freak, a homerun hitter and all-round generational talent.
But not only does he have some of the risk of too many touches leading to injury like I described earlier (he missed three games through injury this season) but he is also in a up and down franchise.
Henry plays for the Titans who have been well coached, well run and unbelievably consistent with their performance since he arrived.
He has a top-10 O-line, a head-coach who is persistent with the run game and is going to be there for a long time, and a cast of players on the outside who demand coverage and attention.
Saquon Barkley has none of that, and the chaos around the organisation has meant that his rookie season, and any strong performance last year has come from his own herculean efforts.
It’s not his fault – but in his situation, with so miles already on the milometer, Henry still seems a better shout.
“But surely teams will eventually catch onto him game-in and game-out?”
This is the big one.
Can Henry still dominate when teams know exactly what is going to happen next season?
And the answer is yes. 100% yes. Don’t bother asking again, yes.
Ryan Tannehill has been effective in the play-offs but overall pretty ineffective, and yet against the incredible defences of both Bill Belichick and Jon Harbaugh, with the ball only going to one person, Henry still recorded at least 180 yards rushing.
Everyone knew that Henry was getting the ball and yet time and time again he found himself into the second level of the defence.
This is what gives him the edge over LeVeon Bell or Ezekiel Elliot, his ability with his direct style to run through you even with the right call and scheme.
Set up how you like.
Put your biggest linebacker in the A-gap or build a concrete wall between the centre and the guard, it doesn’t matter what you do, this Titans Train is rolling with Henry at the wheel and it isn’t stopping for anybody.