How Derrick Henry’s Return Could Shake Up NFL Playoffs

Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans, NFL News
NFL Analysis Network

The Tennessee Titans had a very impressive 2021 NFL season. They finished 13-4, earning the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the postseason. What made it even more incredible is that they accomplished everything they did without their presumed best player, running back Derrick Henry.

Henry has proven to be the most dominant, punishing running back in the NFL. He led the league in rushing yards in 2019 and 2020 and looked well on his way to doing it again in 2021 before suffering a foot injury in Week 8 against the Indianapolis Colts.

Without Henry in the lineup, the Titans patched together a backfield to make things work. Adrian Peterson, D’Onta Foreman, Dontrell Hilliard, and Jeremy McNichols were tasked with replacing Henry.

Those are some huge shoes to fill, but they did a solid job. Tennessee still finished fifth overall in the NFL in rushing offense despite not having Henry in the lineup for half of the season.

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If Derrick Henry is 100 percent ready to go, the Titans’ chances of advancing improve exponentially. He is a true difference-maker at the running back position and will transform the team’s offense. They are much more difficult to handle with the bruising Henry leading the way.

The performance of that quartet is a big reason the Titans were able to win the AFC South and clinch the No. 1 seed. That bye week is a huge benefit and Tennessee will be taking full advantage as Henry will be making his return to the lineup.

This is a huge development. There are plenty of teams taking advantage of the designated to return IR spots, but there arguably isn’t a more important player returning to their respective team as Henry.

Henry’s presence will open things up for the entire offense. Play action will be that much tougher to slow down as defenses will be keying in on trying to slow Henry down. Ryan Tannehill should be able to take full advantage, as A.J. Brown and Julio Jones are both healthy and ready for the postseason as well.

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Brown is very important to the team’s success as well, as their toughest stretch of the season came when he was sidelined. But, having their three biggest playmakers all available makes them that much more dangerous in the postseason.

If Derrick Henry is 100 percent ready to go, the Titans’ chances of advancing improve exponentially. He is a true difference-maker at the running back position and will transform the team’s offense. They are much more difficult to handle with the bruising Henry leading the way.