RB Index, Week 16: Analysis of Ezekiel Elliott and Derrick Henry’s Hall of Fame nomination

It’s indisputable that “King Henry” has been the standard at center running back for the past five seasons. Since 2018, Henry leads the league in games played (1,411), rushing (6,866) yards and rushing touchdowns (67). The next closest players in these three categories: Elliott with 1,274 carries, Nick Chubb with 6,068 rushing yards, and Chubb again with 48 rush TDs. And that’s despite Henry missing nine games in 2021. This season, he’s rushed for 1,303 yards and 12 TDs on a league-leading 296 sacks.

The 6-foot-3, 247-pounder is having another impressive seventh-year campaign, but his most impressive run to date has come in back-to-back seasons, when he led the league in all major rushing categories.

  • 2019 in 15 matches: 303 carries, 1,540 yards, 16 TDs
  • 2020 in 16 matches: 378 carries, 2,027 yards, 17 TDs

Henry is one of only eight players in NFL history with 2,000 yards on a single campaign, a performance that earned him Offensive Player of the Year honors for 2020. In a world where the MVP award is given to quarterbacks – the last non-QB player to win it was an RB Adrian Peterson in 2012 – OPOY honor may as well be getting a linebacker from now on. I mean, Henry recorded the fifth-most rushing yards in NFL history for an 11-5 division winner and didn’t get a single MVP vote, which is absolutely insane.

Henry should have no problem checking the box for 10,000 rushing yards. He averages 109.6 rushing yards per game over the past four seasons, and with three games left in the 2022 campaign, he could realistically top the mark by the end of next season if he stays healthy. I have to touch on the fact that sprints don’t have a long shelf life. I retired just before my 30th birthday. But I think Henry, who turns 29 just days before the end of the regular season for Tennessee, still has a lot of stomping on his tires.

The three-time Pro Bowler has been instrumental in the Titans’ recent success. Tennessee has made four appearances in the postseason, including three straight, and is still in the perfect lineup to get back to the playoffs this season. His biggest postseason performance came in the 2019 playoffs, when he led the sixth-ranked Titans Henry to the AFC title game, with the back accumulating 446 yards and two touchdowns — plus a TD pass! – More than three postseason games.

Henry was robbed of another great campaign in 2021, when his season was cut short by a foot injury after eight games. At that point, he had already rushed for 937 yards and 10 touchdowns while helping the Titans to a 6-2 record. Tennessee went on to claim the No. 1 seed in the AFC Playoffs, as Henry returned to the team in the group stage. However, he wasn’t himself – having not played a shot in over two months – and he wasn’t a factor. There were injuries, but man, that was unfortunate.

Verdict: For me, Henry has done enough to earn me a golden jacket. The Guy has been in this position for half a decade, with the productions and awards to prove it. Another 2,000-yard drive (or close to it) and/or some postseason moments would be the icing on the cake.

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