How do Chiefs' defenders plan to stop Titans RB Derrick Henry?

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How do Chiefs' defenders plan to stop Titans RB Derrick Henry?

Post by admin » Thu Jan 16, 2020 5:29 am

The Kansas City Chiefs have a difficult task at hand as the Tennessee Titans make their way into Arrowhead Stadium for the AFC Championship Game.

Titans RB Derrick Henry has amassed 377 yards and a rushing touchdown on 64 carries in the past two weeks. The Titans have taken out the New England Patriots and the top-seeded Baltimore Ravens during that span. Now, Henry has his sights aimed at doing the same to the Chiefs’ defense.

When Kansas City traveled to Tennessee in Week 10, Henry rushed for 188 yards and two scores. The Titans ultimately won that game 35-32. So how do the Chiefs’ defenders plan on combating Henry this time around? According to defensive back Tyrann Mathieu, it all starts with having the right mentality.

“…I think (Derrick) Henry put together a great season,” Mathieu said. “He’s done a lot of things for his team and they’re really leaning on him. I think the mentality is that somebody is going to have to stop him. Somebody is going to have to make a tackle on him if we want to get to Miami. So it’s one goal, one objective to win the game. In order to do that we know that we’ve got to slow down No. 22.”

If the players remember what’s at stake, they might be able to make that special play that slows Henry down. Knowing that he’s one of the things that stands between them and the Lamar Hunt Trophy and a trip to Miami for the Super Bowl, that can be a powerful motivator.

An area where Mathieu believes the Chiefs need to improve is how they handle Henry late in the game. While the defense wears as the game goes on, Henry and his play snowballs and gets stronger, according to Mathieu.

“He’s a great back and it’s hard to keep those guys bottled up all game,” Mathieu said. “I think the key is that we’ve got to finish the game strong. If you watch a lot of Derrick Henry, he gets stronger as the game goes on. His first halves, they aren’t that great, but second-half football he takes off. So we’ve got to be well-rested and hydrated in order to kind of finish the game and really compete against him and slow him down when it matters the most in the fourth quarter… I remember last time we played them there were nine minutes on the clock. They were down by nine and they kept feeding him the ball. So you know that they believe in him.”

The defense held Henry to 45 yards during the first half in Week 10. That means most of his yardage came in the second half, including a breakaway touchdown run. Having a better defensive rotation and fewer injuries should help Kansas City finish the game stronger.

Part of Henry’s strength is also drawn from the Titans offensive line. It’s mostly a veteran group and they’re playing physical and sound football right now.

“They’re so big upfront,” Mathieu said of the Titans offensive line. “I think their offensive line is really underrated. They’re mean and nasty. They believe in themselves. The play together and I think ultimately they believe in the guy behind them…”

Linebacker Anthony Hitchens will be tasked with getting the defense set and ready to stop Henry. Hitchens is looking for the Chiefs’ defenders to rally to the football. The more people hitting Henry and wrapping him up, the easier it’ll be to bring him down.

“It’s going to take a lot of us hitting and tackling him,” Hitchens said. “More than one guy. He’s a big guy, strong and physical with all the tools. That’s why he’s running wild right now. It’s going to take all of us hitting him and wrapping him up and trying to get him down.”

There’s a certain way you have to tackle a player like Henry, though. If you aim too high, it’s like trying to tackle a tree, and he’ll get those extra yards after contact. The Chiefs will be aiming for a different part of Henry when they go to make a tackle.

“You’ve got to just take his legs out,” Hitchens said. “We’ve talked all week about killing the engine. Hit him in his thighs and his legs, chop them down. When you tackle him high he tends to carry you for about 4-5 more yards. Hit him low, all legal within the game, but you’ve got to just hit him lower.”

Ultimately, the Chiefs defense is playing with a lot of confidence right now. According to Hitchens, if they all get their details down, they’ll be able to bottle up a weapon like Henry for a full four quarters of football.

“Our team has grown so much since then,” Hitchens said. “We’ve been the top defense the past 6-7 weeks. We’ve been focusing on our details. One guy can miss an assignment or a gap and you can get gashed. Just like when we played them last time. You hold him pretty good for three and a half quarters and then he busts a 70-yard run on us. Trying not to let that happen again and play four quarters of great defense and I think we’ll be alright.”

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