Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry is powering past modern NFL conventions and into the MVP conversation.
Because while a workhorse power runner may be a dinosaur overall, Henry still roams the Earth. And he's putting opponents who get in his way into the ground, in the process of putting on his crown as the best, and most impactful, running back in the league.
It is hard enough for a non-quarterback to be discussed amongst the top players in the game, much less a throwback player like Henry. And to be honest, with the way the NFL has trended toward the passing game and backs who are more Swiss Army knife than machete, I wouldn’t have thought I’d consider someone with Henry’s style there either. As the bell cow back has become sort of akin to what the post up big man is in the NBA.
Which is why his current run is so impressive. Well, that and what is self-evident from the highlights of his runs. Henry is carrying the rock 25 times per contest and doing so at a nearly 5 yards per attempt clip with 99 yards of distance between himself and second place in the rushing race. But more importantly, he’s doing so in Titans wins, as they are 5-0 and looking like true Super Bowl contenders.
He’s also helped Ryan Tannehill, once thought of as a bust (to be fair he was coached by Adam Gase), become one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL. Those two have emerged as a duo to be reckoned with.
But it isn’t often we see a modern NFL contender built like Tennessee, and much of the credit should go to Henry, making him legitimately one of the most valuable players in the league.
That doesn’t mean he’ll win MVP, however, just like on the field, good luck to anyone who is in front of him.