You might be able to tackle Derrick Henry. But you're not going to like it.

Chiefs protection Tyrann Mathieu recalls. He tackled Henry previous this season, and idea he’d damaged his jaw. He advised CBS it was once like hitting forged rock. Baltimore Ravens All-Professional cornerback Marlon Humphrey felt Henry, of their dissatisfied loss to the Titans within the AFC divisional spherical ultimate week. He recommends that any one who desires to take a look at it pass to the burden room and “get an additional raise in.”

To this point, completely nobody has discovered a method to decelerate Henry’s demolishing ahead tilt, a lot much less prevent him. He enters the AFC championship recreation with the momentum of a runaway bus, having run for greater than 180 yards in 3 instantly video games, the primary guy in NFL historical past to take action. Hit him top? He will get you with that stiff arm, lengthy and forceful as a horseman’s lance, similar to the only he gave Earl Thomas of the Ravens, pronouncing, “Just right to peer you, Earl, let’s do that once more,” sooner than he left him spinning within the turf. Or, from time to time he’ll simply shoulder 3 or 4 guys and “lift you for approximately 5 extra yards,” says Chiefs linebacker Anthony Hitchens, sooner than he sheds you and leaves you crumpled at the box like balls of lint.

“He’s like a kind of guys the children create on Madden,” Ravens defensive coordinator Wink Martindale mentioned. “You shouldn’t be capable to be that massive and run like he does.”

All issues regarded as, the Chiefs say they’ve determined to “kill the engine” this is Henry through going low. “You’ve simply were given to take his legs out,” Hitchens says, “hit him in his thighs and chop him down.”

The issue with that, Hitchens issues out, is that the ones thighs are as heavy as cannonballs. Any other downside is Henry’s offensive linemen, a “imply and nasty” group consistent with Mathieu, who make it onerous to get at his legs. After which there may be the truth that Henry merely loves to hit — consistent with Professional Soccer Focal point, virtually 85 % of his yardage comes after touch.

“We would like it gritty,” Henry mentioned after dispatching the Patriots. “We would like it grimy.”

Perhaps the most productive concept for the right way to deliver down Henry got here from cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, again when he was once a collegian at Florida and Henry was once Alabama’s Heisman Trophy winner.

“Simply grasp on,” Hargreaves mentioned then, “and look ahead to the crew to get there.”

Henry’s building into the X-factor this postseason has laid waste to defensive technique. There’s not anything very lovable about what the Henry and the Titans do to defenders. They only spoil your will. Again in Week 10, when the Titans beat the Chiefs, 35-32, at the back of 188 yards from Henry, Trainer Mike Vrabel described their end-game plan. It was once merely this: “pound out 10-, 11-, 12-yard runs, after which in the long run watch the ones guys go away the sport, or be on a knee, or be drained, or be banged up, after which stroll into the tip zone,” Vrabel mentioned.

You’ll be able to see the results of all that repetitive battering, how a crew breaks, in Henry’s numbers. He averages a whomping 6.6 yards consistent with lift within the 3rd quarter of video games.

“2nd-half soccer, he takes to the air,” Mathieu says. “So we were given to be well-rested, hydrated with the intention to more or less end the sport, attempt to compete in opposition to him and gradual him down when it issues essentially the most within the fourth quarter — four-minute drives, six-minute drives, seven mins left.”

Defenses fall below the semblance that Henry if truth be told will get more potent as the sport wears on. However as former Alabama teammate Jake Coker has mentioned, it’s extra a case of “He remains the similar, everyone else adjustments.”

Former Michigan State defensive coordinator Harlan Barnett, whose crew confronted Henry within the 2015 school soccer playoffs described it this manner: “You become bored with hitting that massive again,” he mentioned. “Increase. Once more. Right here he comes once more. Increase. Once more and over and over. And so it’s important to have the psychological toughness so that you could say: ‘Dangle on. We’re going to carry up, and we’re going to stay smacking him. Stay hitting him.’”

That’s if you’ll be able to get your fingers on him. Compounding his weightiness and his pace — four.five seconds within the 40-meter sprint — is his skill to cutback and make defenders leave out in house. And as though the ones characteristics weren’t sufficient to handle, there may be his lengthy stride. At 6-foot-Three, he actually consume up the backyard traces like his legs are hungry for grime.

Anyone at Alabama as soon as measured that stride. In complete lope, Henry covers 7.five toes consistent with step. Take into consideration that for a 2d: That’s two and half of yards consistent with stride. It’s 10 yards in simply 4 steps. “If we will get him into his fourth or 5th step, we really feel very assured in his skill and our skill to achieve significant yards,” Vrabel mentioned. And as soon as he breaks a take on, he’s long past. On 23 events this season he is burst upfield for 15 yards or longer, maximum within the league. 

“He doesn’t get stuck a lot,” Patriots Trainer Invoice Belichick noticed.

After all, there may be Henry’s capability for a frightening workload. He’s carried the ball 96 occasions in his previous 3 video games, a scarcely plausible charge on this generation of stability offense. However for him, it’s commonplace. Again in highschool in Yulee, Florida, he ceaselessly carried 40 or extra occasions a recreation, and the fad persevered at Alabama.

Maximum coaches usually favor to not paintings a again greater than 20 or 25 occasions for concern of compromising fumbles. However past due in his Heisman season at Alabama he carried 46 occasions in opposition to Auburn, adopted through 44 carries in opposition to Florida only a week later. The coaches would muse about whether or not he wanted a relaxation. “However you notice the frame language,” Bama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin mentioned then. They learned Henry preferred it.

“I am getting in a rhythm, the extra carries I am getting,” he says.

His staying power brought about a Southwest Airways twitter handler to have just a little amusing this week. Requested whether or not the airline deliberate any additional flights between Nashville and Kansas Town, the airline agent wrote:

“Despite the fact that we don’t have any plans so as to add further routes, we’re lovely positive that Derrick Henry would simply put you on his again and run you there.”

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