Two games into the 2020 season, Derrick Henry leads the AFC in rushing yards with 200 on the nose and the entire NFL in carries with 56.
And while the yards-per-carry doesn’t look great at 3.6 yards per rush, the Titans don’t appear overly concerned. They believe Henry can rip off bigger runs once the the offense gets into better rhythm and that Henry’s high number of carries – 12 more than any other back in the league – are not a concern.
“I personally don’t worry about the carries, because it’s football and Derrick is gonna do whatever the coaching staff asks. We’re gonna do whatever it takes to win the game,” Titans running backs coach Tony Dews said. “So if it’s him carrying the ball, or him blocking or him standing next to me – hopefully not for too long – but if he has to be out of the game for some reason, whatever it takes to win.”
Dews said Henry is completely on board with that concept as well.
“Derrick has completely bought into that. He understands that we have a team full of capable guys all over in every position that can affect the game in a positive way. He just wants to do his part and help the team in whatever way he can,” Dews said.
Opposing teams have not surprisingly loaded up to stop Henry in the early going. The result has been no run longer than 14 yards for last year’s rushing champ, but it has opened up the passing game immeasurably with Ryan Tannehill off to a start of six touchdown passes and no interceptions and completing 70 percent of his passes thus far for a second straight season.
“We’d like to be obviously as efficient as we possibly can and gain as many yards as we can, but you have to stay balanced and you have to know that and have some of that faith and confidence that he’s going break one, and continue to coordinate it and work it each and every week and make it better,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said of the offense and Henry’s two-game start. “There was a lot of evidence of us doing things well, and then for a few reasons there were times where we didn’t do it very well. We’d like to have more of the coordinated offense where everybody’s working in unison, and eliminate the negative or no gains or the times when the quarterback has to throw the ball away or nobody’s open. I don’t really look at the number of carries, we look at how the flow is going and where he’s at. We’d like to be more efficient in all phases of our team.”
For his part, Henry knows that a balanced offense and more plays in the passing game will eventually lead to him getting more opportunities to make big plays in the run game.
“Hopefully guys can keep making plays and keep pushing for this offense,” Henry said.