clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Mike Vrabel is running Derrick Henry into the ground

And it’s working!

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

AFC Divisional Playoffs - Cincinnati Bengals v Tennessee Titans Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

You know how the Eagles have been criticized for not beating anyone? The Titans have an even bigger lead in their division and their resume is paper thin. Their seven wins this season have been against the Colts twice, the Raiders, the Commanders with Carson Wentz, the Texans, the Broncos, and the Packers. And all of them were by 10 points or less.

And yet this is probably the second toughest team the Eagles will face this season? Not because they’re that good, but because of the clash of styles. The Eagles run defense is going up against a not so modern version of smashmouth football.

If you like watching teams run the ball, and you should, running the ball is fun, this is a game for you. Only five teams have run on over half of their plays: the Bears, Falcons, Eagles, Titans, and Giants.

Lean in to it

Sometimes coaches make things way too complicated for themselves. Do you have good players on offense? You do? Then friggin use them. Nick Sirianni has mostly been good at this. He has a great offensive line, so he runs a lot. He has a great trio of pass catchers, so about 75% of pass attempts go to them. AJ Brown has more targets than everyone who isn’t Devonta Smith or Dallas Geodert combined. Sirianni’s use of Kenneth Gainwell on 3rd down remains a head scratcher, but other than that he’s pretty much leaned on his best players when needed. It seems a no brainer, but not every coach does.

Mike Vrabel also leans on his best players. Well, in this case it’s just best player, he only has Derrick Henry and not much else on his roster. So he gets Derrick Henry the ball a lot. A lot a lot. In each of the past two seasons Henry has over 36% of the Titans yards when he plays, and 43% of plays go to him. Those are huge amounts that he’s ramped up each season.

Derrick Henry Workload

Year Play % Yards %
Year Play % Yards %
2018 24.8 23.4
2019 33.8 30.1
2020 38.5 33.8
2021* 43.5 36.3
2022 43.2 40.5

These are the same usage and dependence rates as when teams gave running backs 400+ touches without a thought.

High workload RBs

Player Year Touches Play % Yards %
Player Year Touches Play % Yards %
Emmitt Smith 1992 432 42.6 36.5
Emmitt Smith 1995 439 43.6 36.9
Jamaal Anderson 1998 437 44 39.5
Edgerrin James 1999 431 44 37.4
Edgerrin James 2000 450 43.9 37.5
Eddie George 2000 453 43.7 36.7
LaDanian Tomlinson 2002 451 43.9 40.8

Derrick Henry is on pace for 414 touches this season, which would be the most since DeMarco Murray in 2014, and before that Larry Johnson in 2006. Both of them also saw over 44% of their teams plays go through them.

Every player in the NFL has an expiration date, and unfortunately for running backs it’s a pretty short one. What is Mike Vrabel going to do when Derrick Henry is past his?

(He’ll coach Ohio State)

It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Not the holiday season. Mock draft season! We’ve got a major mock draft!

6. Philadelphia Eagles (from New Orleans): Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson

General manager Howie Roseman won’t need any convincing to target a defensive lineman, especially a prospect like Bryan Bresee, who has the athletic traits and intangibles worthy of the top 10. Jordan Davis and Bresee on the same interior would be a problem for blockers.

I’m down with it. There are a lot of moving parts for the Eagles defense this offseason with James Bradberry, CJ Gardner-Johnson, Marcus Epps, Javon Hargrave, Kyzir White, and TJ Edwards scheduled to be free agents. Some, maybe even all of them, will be re-signed. No matter what happens with free agency though, Howie Roseman is always going to at least strongly consider drafting an offensive or defensive lineman in the first round. 6 of the 9 (nice) 1st round picks that Howie Roseman has made have been offensive or defensive linemen, and they’re not taking an offensive lineman in the 1st round this year unless Lane Johnson unexpectedly retires. It’s not hard to make a case for a different position or player, but if Bresee is the best option on the board in April, that’s a fine pick and totally in line with the team’s draft philosophy.

31. Philadelphia Eagles: Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama

The Eagles haven’t drafted a Round 1 running back since 1986, but with two picks in the opening round and Miles Sanders set to hit free agency, maybe they’d break trend for the right player. Jahmyr Gibbs is a sudden athlete with the vision, acceleration and receiving skills that are ideal for the Eagles’ offense. The Eagles also could go with an edge player like Ohio State’s Zach Harrison instead, but an offensive backfield of Jalen Hurts and Gibbs would be fireworks.

LMAO, absolutely not going to happen in the 1st round. It feels like every year people who should know better mock a RB or a LB to the Eagles in the 1st round. It doesn’t matter that they have two 1st rounders. It wouldn’t matter if they had five. They’re not taking a RB in round one. 2nd round? Sure, Miles Sanders was in 2019 and if Dalvin Cook was on the board in 2017 they would have drafted him. But 1st round? Dane Brugler should know better. He even admits it goes against the organizational philosophy!

None of this is going to happen. Brugler is as legit as they come in the mock draft industry, and his first mock draft last year missed on every pick. It’s absolutely pointless doing a mock now. Which is why I love it.

Stat of the Week That May Only Interest Me

AJ Brown TDs this season: 7

Titans WRs TDs this season: 3

Top Worst 5 Titans Who Were Also Eagles

1. Jim Washburn

He wasn’t good at his job and was an asshole.

2. DeMarco Murray

He also wasn’t good at his job and was an asshole.

3. Vince Young

He was mostly just not good at his job.

4. Jason Babin

He was really good at what he thought his job was.

5. Jevon Kearse

Record breaking contract in free agency, mediocre play.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Bleeding Green Nation Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your Philadelphia Eagles news from Bleeding Green Nation