The Titans needs to be frightened about Derrick Henry’s decline

Derrick Henry is toast.

Do not act such as you weren’t already considering it. Do not act such as you’re stunned to listen to it from Soccer Outsiders, the pioneers of the Curse of 370, both.

Henry is 2 years faraway from a 378-carry, 2,027-yard season for the Tennessee Titans that was magnificent to look at however which voided his manufacturing facility guarantee. Henry seemed to be cruising alongside and not using a care about his mileage within the first half of 2021, with 5 100-yard speeding afternoons in his first six video games, earlier than struggling a foot fracture towards the Colts in Week 8. He returned for 20 carries for 62 yards within the playoff loss to the Bengals, which was a far cry from the 195-yard playoff performances of years previous that made Henry way more than a fantasy soccer legend.

An overused energy runner coming off a significant foot harm? Certain, we’ll take him as a fantasy RB1 (extra on that later), if solely as a result of there aren’t many higher choices, however we’ll move on Henry as the focus of an offense with Tremendous Bowl aspirations.

Walkthrough is definite that Henry is toast, not due to the harm or a “curse” (and the analysis behind that curse), however due to a Sports activities Information Options metric referred to as Damaged Tackles plus Missed Tackles divided by Makes an attempt. Walkthrough abbreviates that as BMT%, and it is precisely what the label says it’s.

Denver Broncos rookie Javonte Williams led the NFL with a BMT% of 21.7 in 2021. Buffalo Payments operating again Devin Singletary was a stunning second at 21.3%. A lot of the operating backs who matter hovered within the 15.0% vary: Aaron Jones (17.5%), Alvan Kamara (16.3%), Jonathan Taylor (16.3%), Nick Chubb (15.4%.)

So the place’s Henry? Properly, listed below are the NFL’s worst damaged/missed sort out charges for 2021 amongst backs with over 150 carries:

Lowest BMT%, 2021
Title Group BMT%
Ezekiel Elliott DAL 6.8%
Cordarelle Patterson ATL 7.8%
Jamaal Williams DET 8.5%
Chuba Hubbard CAR 8.7%
Myles Gaskin MIA 8.7%
Derrick Henry TEN 9.6%
Saquon Barkley NYG 9.9%
Austin Ekeler KAC 10.7%
Joe Mixon CIN 11.3%
James Robinson JAX 12.2%

Elliott is the albatross Jerry Jones chained across the Cowboys’ neck. (Tony Pollard’s BMT% was a not-so-hot 10.8%, if you’re curious.) Patterson was a enjoyable story for a not-so-fun crew, however he was not more than an satisfactory rusher. Williams is a veteran RB2 recognized extra for humorous quips and locker-room management than truck-stick highlights. Hubbard was a bland rookie pressed into service for a nasty crew. Gaskin is a committee again who performed behind one of many league’s worst strains in 2021; he not often had room to run and did nothing with what he had. Barkley is the muscle automobile the Giants wrecked the second they drove him off the lot.

We see higher operating backs on the backside (prime, actually) of the record above, however we additionally see BMT charges climbing nicely into the double digits. It is price noting right here that BMT% is a speeding stat, so Ekeler, Patterson and others do not get any credit score for juking defenders after receptions. (A scan of the receiving BMT charges for operating backs revealed nothing noteworthy in regards to the backs that we’re discussing.)

It isn’t an encouraging signal to see Henry on the identical record as guys like Elliott and Barkley, plus a bunch of committee backs and randos. Maybe we’re taking a look at some form of statistical anomaly. Henry is extra more likely to break a sort out than make a defender miss, so perhaps there’s some counting aberration at work. Maybe Henry all the time posts low BMT charges, and it is no large deal.

Nope. Listed here are Henry’s profession damaged/missed sort out percentages:

Derrick Henry, Profession BMT%
Yr BMT%
2017 23.3%
2018 23.7%
2019 21.5%
2020 15.1%
2021 9.6%

Oh pricey. It appears like BMT charges may get dragged downward by central tendency when a again’s workload will get extraordinarily excessive. That is sensible for somebody like Henry, who will get numerous carries close to the aim line (not many alternatives to make defenders miss) and within the fourth quarters of victories (retaining each arms on the ball is a better precedence than breaking a protracted achieve). Excessive utilization might clarify Henry’s drop in 2020, however he posted the worst charge by far of his profession in 2021. Plus, his charges are in a four-year decline. Moreover his foot harm had little or nothing to do along with his 2021 plummet as a result of he solely carried a handful of occasions after getting harm within the Colts sport, and his playoff efficiency will not be counted within the figures above.

To supply a raw-number sense of what these BMT charges imply: Henry broke or eluded 29 tackles in 182 carries in his first eight video games of 2020 and 34 tackles on 151 carries in his first eight video games of 2019. Final 12 months, he broke or eluded simply 21 tackles on 219 makes an attempt earlier than getting harm on the finish of his eighth sport. So we’re speaking about 8-13 misplaced vans and jukes in a half-season, or about one to 1.5 per sport, maybe extra when a rise in carries is factored in. One or two fewer highlights per sport is the distinction between an Offensive Participant of the Yr candidate and a high-volume plodder.

Simply to ensure we weren’t chasing down some high-volatility statistic that has little to do with future efficiency, we combed the Sports activities Information Options knowledge trying to find rushers from 2015 to 2021 with 200-plus makes an attempt in a season however a BMT% in Henry’s 2021 neighborhood. Right here is who we discovered:

Lowest BMT%, 200+ Carries, 2015-2021
Title Group Yr BMT%
Ezekiel Elliott DAL 2021 6.8%
Kenyan Drake ARI 2020 9.2%
Derrick Henry TEN 2021 9.6%
Jordan Howard CHI 2018 9.6%
Frank Gore IND 2016 9.9%
Darren McFadden DAL 2015 10.0%
Lamar Miller HOU 2016 10.1%
Alfred Morris WAS 2015 10.4%
Austin Ekeler LAC 2021 10.7%
Isaiah Crowell CLE 2017 10.7%
Sony Michel NE 2018 10.9%

We usually add columns to charts just like the one above itemizing what occurred to every participant the following season, however c’mon, simply have a look at that record: It is all rushers on their final legs as featured backs or one-year semi-wonders. It is a horrifying record for Henry (and Zeke; Ekeler can safely soften again right into a committee position) to be on.

So what’s going to Henry’s first season with a blown piston rod appear like? Todd Gurley’s 2019 season (857 yards, 12 touchdowns) or Zeke final 12 months (1,002 yards, 10 touchdowns) in all probability characterize the low finish of the projection. Henry goes to get force-fed 20-plus carries per sport, in any case, as a result of the Titans instantly have little else on offense.

Walkthrough snuck a peak on the early KUBIAK projections, they usually’re very encouraging for fantasy players, partially as a result of we undertaking nicely over 300 carries for Henry. However there is a distinction between a operating again who can rack up a dozen touchdowns in your fantasy crew and one who can reliably produce chunk yardage towards stacked containers for a crew that was pressured to commerce away its prime vast receiver on draft day.

The largest yellow flag for Henry and the Titans might not be a damaged sort out proportion or the Curse of 370, however a receiver corps now spearheaded by rookie Treylon Burks and veteran Robert Woods, a 30-year-old who’s new to the crew/system and coming off an ACL tear. We rightfully roast the Cowboys for overpaying Zeke and dropping Amari Cooper in consequence, however Henry is costing the Titans $15 million in cap area this 12 months, cash that might have been used to maintain A.J. Brown. The Titans might now have caught themselves in a finger lure: Henry’s wage contributed to the lack of Brown, whose absence will make issues tougher for Henry, whose previous mileage might forestall him from breaking the tackles he used to interrupt to maintain the Titans offense buzzing.

The Titans did draft an insurance coverage coverage of types for Henry: fourth-round choose Hassan Haskins, who was a 270-1,327-20 workhorse for Michigan. Sadly, Haskins’ BMT% of 13.0% ranked twenty ninth amongst rushers with 200-plus carries in 2021 and was nicely beneath the charges posted by prime prospects Kenneth Walker (29.9%) and Breece Corridor (28.5%.)

So sure, Derrick Henry is toast, although it might take one other 12 months or two for him to crumble into crumbs, and there is a troubling likelihood that the Titans might slowly crumble together with him.

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