The Indianapolis Colts face a tall task on Thursday night in trying to derail Derrick Henry and the Tennessee Titans powerful running game.
Last year’s NFL rushing yards king is currently 2nd in league rushing yards behind Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook, with 843 total rushing yards—averaging 105.4 rushing yards per game.
The Titans are 6th in team rushing with 146.6 rushing yards per game in 2020.
Meanwhile, the Colts boast the NFL’s 3rd best rushing defense, only allowing 83.6 rushing yards per game—having surrendered 669 total rushing yards on the ground during 8 games.
So how do the Colts stop ‘King Henry’, the 6’3”, 247 pound former Heisman Trophy winner, who rushed for 149 total rushing yards in Week 13 of last season at Indianapolis?
For one, Colts defenders have to win their one-on-one matchups and get off blocks.
However, it’s going to take a total team effort—where a number of Horseshoe helmets need to be swarming to the football and helping to bringing Henry down.
The Colts have to maintain discipline in their gaps and aim low on Henry when tackling, because if you aim high, you’re going to have a bad day.
It also helps to not allow Henry to have a full head of steam in the open field because once that freakishly quick footed big bodied back gets churning downhill with some momentum, he’s like a runaway freight train headed towards the house.
Something that Colts All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard already knows:
Leonard said, even with his size, he’d rather see Derrick Henry between the tackles. He gets outside and they get blockers in front of him, he can be very difficult to bring down. #Colts— George Bremer (@gmbremer) November 10, 2020
As him and his teammates have already learned this the hard way—especially when having a Tennessee cavalry blocking ahead of Henry:
Darius Leonard couldn't tackle Henry either. pic.twitter.com/eCQvTw7OHa— Titans Tape (@TitansTape) February 21, 2020
Henry poses a tremendous challenge for the Colts run defense, especially since Indianapolis cannot simply load the box with Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill playing some good football and dangerous wide receivers like A.J. Brown potentially going deep.
That being said, the Colts have a stout run defense—anchored by starting nose tackle Grover Stewart in the interior. This is the same unit that held Dalvin Cook earlier this season to just 63 rushing yards on 14 carries (4.5 ypc. avg.) and a rushing touchdown (although the Vikings falling behind early certainly played a factor in the game script).
It’ll be interesting to see who wins this matchup between two forces of nature colliding.