Some consider Jim Brown the greatest running back in NFL history. Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale was 2 when Brown retired after the 1965 season, so he never saw the Browns running back play except on NFL Films.
But Martindale has seen Derrick Henry play in person, and he’ll see the Titans running back again Sunday, and Martindale sees Brown when he watches Henry.
“He’s a physical guy that can be one cut and go,” Martindale said, via Ed Valentine of Big Blue View. “He can be whatever he wants to be at certain times. He’s a very talented back. He’s like our modern-day Jim Brown. He’s just that much different when he has the ball. He’s a challenge every time he touches it.”
Since 2018, Henry has led the league with 1,115 attempts for 5,563 yards. After back-to-back rushing titles in 2019 and 2020, Henry was leading the league in rushing after eight games last season when he injured his foot. It took Jonathan Taylor until the 11th game to pass Henry, who didn’t return until the postseason.
The Titans expect Henry to return to his pre-injury form. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have given Henry a raise last week, making him the highest-paid running back for 2022.
“I still don’t think they gave him enough,” Martindale said.
Henry ran for 133 yards on 28 carries in the Titans’ win over Martindale’s defense in Baltimore during the 2020 regular season after Henry had 30 carries for 195 yards in an upset of the Ravens in a playoff game the previous postseason.
“Thanks for reminding me,” Martindale said sarcastically.
So, Martindale knows exactly what awaits his defense Sunday, making for a sleepless week.