Derrick Henry And The Running Game Are Hitting Their Stride

The Tennessee Titans have won five of their last six games on the way to their current 7-5 record. Many see one change in that equation and that is the insertion of Ryan Tannehill into the starting lineup. However, there is one player and one unit that deserve more credit for the surge of the Titans’ over the last six games.

Big things were expected out of Derrick Henry to start the season. The big bruiser of a back with breakaway speed was someone expected to be the focal point of the Titans’ offense. Over the first ten games of the season, Henry was playing well but he wasn’t having any of those monster games he had the previous year, with only one 100 yard rushing performance.

In the last three games, however, he has been amazing. The talented fourth-year running back from Alabama has amassed 496 yards in the last three games along with five touchdowns.

What has changed over time to allow Henry to get going? The first is his approach. The talented running back used to try to run like a smaller back with quicker feet. Henry is fast but he does not have the quickest feet when it comes to changing direction and getting back up to speed.

That type of running used to get him in trouble, allowing defenders to catch him before he was able to generate speed. Instead, he now makes one cut and goes, allowing his power and speed to build up into a battering ram that wears on opponents as the game goes on.

Henry is definitely running the ball better but the offensive line of the Titans has improved in run-blocking as well. At the beginning of the season, there were missed assignments and an overall newness to the front five as they replaced some parts from last season.

Now with time in and more of an understanding, guys like free-agent acquisition Roger Saffold feel more comfortable in the scheme and it is resulting in more holes being open. Henry is now getting to the second level of defenses with a head of steam.

The Titans are a team built around the run game and at first, that was not looking like a good plan. With patience and Henry running with more decisiveness, the team has fell into their true identity and it is paying dividends for them in the win column. The amazing thing to watch going forward is will they keep it up? For right now though, the Titans are riding the train that is Derrick Henry and it’s full-steam ahead.

Photo courtesy of the Tennessean

Mike Patton

Nashville, Tennessee

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