Could Derrick Henry Win the NFL MVP Award?
After last night’s astonishing performance, NFL pundits are calling for the possibility of Derrick Henry winning the NFL’s MVP award. However, with so many elite quarterbacks in the NFL, the dominant runner’s chances could be a longshot.
Henry put on one of the single best performances of any player so far in this NFL season last night. The Titan starting running back dominated the Buffalo Bills with 143 rushing yards on 20 carries, mauling their defense into shreds. Additionally, Henry scored three touchdowns to help propel the Titans to a 34-31 victory over the Bills.
Monday Night's Alright for @KingHenry_2 👑
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) October 19, 2021
The heroic feat wasn’t the only time that Henry has impressed this season. To date, Derrick has rushed for 100 yards in five consecutive games and has already amassed 640 rushing yards this season, making him the NFL’s leading rusher by a 117-yard margin. Henry only needs 360 more rushing yards to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark, a feat that he’s achieved three times already in his five-year career.
History of the Award
But, with all of the aforementioned impressive statistics, is Henry on pace to become the NFL’s MVP? While the numbers put Henry on pace for one of the best rushing seasons ever, the odds are stacked against him in a quarterback favored award.
Since the last 20 years, only four running backs have been granted MVP honors. Contrarily, the MVP has been given to quarterbacks 18 times in the same timespan, with QBs taking home the award the last eight years in a row. It’ll be hard for Henry to take home the award in a league that has fully transitioned to gunslinging and protecting the quarterback overpower running.
According to ESPN, the top 5 candidates on the watch to win the MVP are all quarterbacks. Kyler Murray and the undefeated Arizona Cardinals hold the top spot, while Justin Herbert, Josh Allen, Tom Brady, and Dak Prescott round out the list.
Here are their stats so far this season:
- 1. Kyler Murray, QB, Arizona Cardinals
2021 stats: 1,512 passing yards, 110 rushing yards, 13 total TDs, 4 INTs, 68.4 Total QBR
- 2. Justin Herbert, QB, Los Angeles Chargers
2021 stats: 1,576 passing yards, 14 total TDs, 3 INTs, 66.1 Total QBR
- 3. Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills
2021 stats: 1,370 passing yards, 188 rushing yards, 14 total TDs, 2 INTs, 65.3 Total QBR
- 4. Tom Brady, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2021 stats: 1,767 passing yards, 16 total TDs, 2 INTs, 65.6 Total QBR
- 5. Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys
2021 stats: 1,386 passing yards, 13 total TDs, 3 INTs, 56.6 Total QBR
Derrick Henry MVP Case
The list continues with Lamar Jackson, Matthew Stafford, and Aaron Rodgers, with no sight of Henry to be found. Perhaps those power rankings will change soon, but the award has become synonymous with the most valuable quarterback to a franchise in recent years.
If Henry continues to rush for 128 yards per game, he will finish with 2,304 yards, breaking the NFL’s single-season record and rushing for 2,000 yards in back-to-back seasons.
Will Henry win the NFL MVP award? There’s a chance that he will not succeed due to the recent history of the prize; however, if any non-quarterback deserves the award, it’s #22.