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Ryan Tannehill: We need Derrick Henry to roll

Tennessee pulled out a critical 45-26 win over conference opponent Indianapolis in week 12. The AFC South, which was previously tied for the top spot, is now led by the Titans, as the Colts drop back to rank second.

When Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill last addressed the workload of running back Derrick Henry, Tannehill said the then-recent reduction in Henry’s touches had happened by design.

After Sunday’s 27-carry performance for Henry against the Colts, which followed last Sunday’s 28-carry day for Henry against the Ravens, I asked Tannehill when and why the plans apparently changed.

“I don’t know,” Tannehill said. “That’s probably a question for Coach Vrabel or [offensive coordinator] Arthur [Smith], but Derrick’s been rolling. As we get down the stretch here into games that really matter in January, we need Derrick to roll. I think obviously it’s important for us to keep him going and that’s what we’re gonna do.”

That’s the best plan for the Titans. Henry is their identity, and everything else flows through him.

Indeed, their three losses came in the games during which he had his lowest rushing totals: 20 against the Steelers, 18 against the Bengals, and 19 against the Colts the first time around.

Of course, it’s not enough to say “let’s give Henry the ball a lot and we’ll win.” The games they win inevitably will show that they were able to possess the ball enough to give Henry a bunch of chances.

And if Henry can keep going like he has the past two games, Tennessee can indeed be a factor in January 2021, just like they were in January 2020.