Jonathan Taylor, of the divisional rival Indianapolis Colts, seized the moment. He became the rushing triple crown winner in 2021 – an honor held by Henry the previous two seasons – en route to his first Pro Bowl nod.
But Henry will be back in 2022. Taylor isn’t going anywhere.
Which has begged the question among some NFL pundits: Who will be the rushing king next season?
Here are reasons for, and against, Henry reclaiming the rushing title in 2022:
Reasons for Henry reclaiming rushing crown
Electric 2021 pace
Before the foot injury last season, Henry was on pace to win the rushing triple crown for the third straight year. He had 219 carries for 937 yards and 10 touchdowns in eight games. On a 17-game pace, that’s 465 carries for 1,991 yards and more than 21 touchdowns.
Of course, a 465-carry regular season would’ve been absurd – that dwarfs the NFL’s single-season record of 416 (Larry Johnson, 2006) – but Henry was well on pace for 300-plus carries for a third straight year. And considering how his play has historically elevated as the season drags into the winter months, it’s not hard to imagine he would’ve threatened the 2,000-yard rushing mark for a second straight season if not for the foot injury, with the chance to be the first ever to reach the milestone twice.
Henry was on that pace just last season. If he’s healthy, why couldn’t he do it again in 2022?
Henry missed just two games in his first five seasons in the NFL. In 2021, he missed nine regular season games and played in just one playoff game. It has given him a rested body to attack his offseason. That bodes in favor of a big comeback season in 2022.
Run game dependence
With A.J. Brown gone and uncertainty around the receiver room, the Titans could depend on Henry more than ever. The offensive line has been a consistent force in the run game (despite pass-blocking concerns). Those are reasons to believe Henry will continue to string together big games in 2022.
Reasons against Henry reclaiming rushing crown
Age, wear and tear
Henry is 28 and has racked up 1,557 carries (regular season and playoffs) at a position known to have a short shelf life. It’s possible that the foot fracture is a sign of his body breaking down. The ceiling for Taylor and other young running backs is much higher.
Hassan Haskins’ arrival
While Henry is still the No. 1 running back, fourth-round rookie Hassan Haskins could eat into some of his snaps on early downs. D’Onta Foreman’s emergence last season provided an insurance blanket when Henry went down. It’s why the Titans could see Haskins spelling, and helping preserve, Henry for what they hope is a deep playoff run.
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Will Titans’ Derrick Henry reclaim rushing title from Jonathan Taylor?