With the NFL quickly approaching its halfway mark, the conversations are ramping up for award considerations.
The Usual Suspects
The conversation for MVP includes the usually cast of names: Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers and Lamar Jackson. It fits with the narrative that the winner is usually a quarterback. Ryan Tannehill and Ben Roethlisberger have also crept into the conversation as well, as of late.
But even the best quarterbacks have a bad game or two throughout the course of the season. Jackson was stifled by the Kansas City Chiefs’ defense. Rodgers also couldn’t figure out Tampa Bay’s defense.
But the Most Valuable Player Award should go to the just that. Even if that player is a running back. Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry is the Most Valuable Player, in that Tennessee goes as he goes. A bad game for Henry is still one where he breaks the 100-yard mark.
That was showcased last season when he ran his way to the rushing title. It was then featured in the team’s pair of playoff upsets over the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens. Both teams knew what was coming but when it came down to it Henry just ran all over them and in both cases through them.
The Titans sit a 5-0 heading into a matchup against the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers. Henry has eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark in all five games. He tallied 212 yards on the ground and also added a 52-yard scamper on a screen pass, in the Week 6 win against the Houston Texans. He found the end zone twice.
Henry being successful is what allows Tannehill to carve up opposing defenses with ease. Defenses are so worried that Henry is just one attempt away from breaking a big run and blowing the game wide open in favor of the Titans, that they are often a step or two late in coverage. That has allowed Tannehill to exploit those mistakes, almost to perfection since taking over the starting job last season.
While historically the award has gone to a quarterback, there have been a few exceptions. A quarterback has won 12 of the last 13 awards. Adrian Peterson was the most recent non-quarterback to win it, in 2012. Since 1979, 10 running backs have been named MVP. While 31 quarterbacks have won the award in that same span.
If he keeps up his current pace, Henry will likely flirt with the 2,000-yard rushing mark. And if he can sprinkle in a couple more 200-yard games, he may even make a run at Eric Dickerson‘s record of 2,105.
If he can put up 100 yards this week against the stingy Steelers rushing defense, that should catapult him into the conversation.
There are always exceptions to every ‘rule’, so why not Derrick Henry?
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Derrick hasn’t gone over 100 yards in every game this season. He ran for 84 against Jacksonville and 57 against Buffalo. He would be over 600 yards right now if that were true.