While we usually tend to discuss the ins and outs of the NFL playoff picture during this time of the season, we as football enthusiasts also love to dive into the always heated MVP discussion.
Sometimes we have a surefire MVP winner this late into the year, and sometimes we don’t. The situation for the 2020 season is more tied to the latter, with an impressive group of potential candidates available to choose from, yet no winner even after days and weeks of discussion.
The 2020 NFL MVP race is once again full of star studded names at quarterback, with Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, and Russell Wilson headlining the race to potentially be named this year’s league MVP.
But if there’s one player that can change the status quo and sprinkle a little old school thinking onto this QB friendly award, it’s one who’s dashed onto the scene once again this season, and has put together a strong case to take home his first ever MVP award.
He’s led the charge for this potent Tennessee Titans offense, and appears on track to have a better statistical year than he had last year.
Of course, I’m talking about none other than running back Derrick Henry.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) November 29, 2020
But what competition does Henry have for the MVP award? Also, what does Henry himself have to do to become the Titans’ first league MVP winner since Steve McNair?
Let’s break it all down.
What Derrick Henry Has Done So Far
Henry has put together another impressive season, but this year, he found success early on in the year rather than struggling early and getting hot late. He’s taken that early season statistical success, and has spread it out over the course of the year, instead of racking up huge numbers all at once.
So far, Henry has rushed for 1,257 yards and 12 touchdowns, while averaging just over 114 YPG and a healthy 4.9 YPC. He’s found success in a variety of ways in the run game, whether it’s with power run plays between the tackles, or using his vision to find lanes on zone run plays.
It’s been impressive to watch as the season has gone along, especially considering how his effectiveness hasn’t lessened even with the amount of carries he’s received so far(256 rushing attempts).
His presence alone has opened up a lot of opportunities in the play action passing game, most of which Ryan Tannehill and this Titans wide receiver group have been able to take advantage of more times than not.
All in all, it’s been a very great year for Henry, with the elite numbers and tape to back up the claim. But even with all success Henry has had this year, he’ll still have a steep climb towards potentially being named NFL MVP.
Well, for one, the performances from the rest of the likely limited field of candidates have simply been outstanding.
Who Else Is In The Running For MVP?
Patrick Mahomes has looked fantastic once again this season, and he’s looked that way by doing the same unimaginable things we never thought we’d see on an NFL field.
Mahomes has thrown for just under 3,500 yards this season, with an TD-INT ratio of 30-2(!). I don’t care how repetitive these numbers may seem, what Mahomes is doing on the football field right now is downright insane.
The likely MVP winner if the season ended today, Mahomes has continued to put up video game numbers on the field, while showing no signs of slowing down whatsoever. His talented arsenal of weapons has made life as easy as possible for him this season, and as long as the injury bug doesn’t begin to bite, they’ll continue to catch touchdowns and make highlight reels that look like they belong to a bunch of high schoolers.
.@PatrickMahomes had a DAY on Sunday:
— NFL Football Operations (@NFLFootballOps) December 1, 2020
There’s honestly nothing else I can say, Mahomes has simply been that incredible this year.
Even if we’ve come to expect this level of play from Mahomes year after year, it still doesn’t take away from the fact that what we’re seeing is something truly special.
You better appreciate his greatness while it’s still in its early stages, since anomalies like these don’t come around every so often.
The old man still has it, even at the alarming age of 37.
Rodgers has always been one of the prime examples of consistency and excellence at the quarterback position during his illustrious career.
But the usual greatness from Rodgers this year has felt different.
You can look towards the rookie that’s still sitting behind the Rodgers on the depth chart. We all know how it went down on draft night with Green Bay, and how their 1st round selection of QB Jordan Love sent shockwaves throughout the NFL.
The pick reminded everyone of when Aaron Rodgers was drafted to become the eventual successor to Brett Favre. Which of course sent everyone scrambling, wondering if the Packers were preparing to move on from the future Hall of Famer in Rodgers.
It’s impossible to tell if Rodgers took that punch to the gut personally, but boy his numbers make it sound like he did.
Rodgers has thrown for 3,100 yards and 33 touchdowns so far in 2020, and with a handful of games left in this wacky NFL season, you can bet that touchdown total is only going to rise substantially. What Rodgers has done this year has been nothing short of textbook, while also serving as a reminder that he isn’t done playing at a high level just yet.
— NFL (@NFL) November 30, 2020
Father time catches up to everyone, but it’s still lagging behind Aaron Rodgers right about now.
I think he’d need a crazy good end to the year to take home the MVP award, but Rodgers has done far more crazier things, so it’s still entirely possible.
Wilson gained a lot of support as an MVP candidate before the season even started. The fact that Wilson has never received a single MVP vote, was a big media talking point around the league. So much so, that many were itching to glue their eyes to Seahawks games just to see if Wilson could somewhat live up to the hype he’d gotten all off-season long.
It’s safe to say he lived up to it, and then some.
— Samuel Gold (@SamuelRGold) December 1, 2020
Wilson threw 19 touchdowns through the first 5 games of the season, while looking well on his way to finally receiving that first ever MVP vote. But from week 6 onward, Wilson had a couple of meh performances mixed in with the usual greatness we expect from him, so his case for MVP was tossed around in uncertainty for a some time.
But while Wilson did have some of those questionable performances earlier in the year, his play has still looked great overall.
His MVP case isn’t as strong as it once was, but he’s still firmly in the race along with Rodgers and Mahomes.
What Does Henry Have to Do to Win MVP?
It’s always been hard for running backs to win an MVP award. If you don’t believe me, then just simply take a look at the historical data.
Since Shaun Alexander and LaDainian Tomlinson won MVP awards back to back in 2005 and 2006, only ONE running back has risen to the occasion, and has been given the honors as the league’s MVP.
That one running back was none other than Adrian Peterson in 2012 when he returned from a gruesome knee injury, and rushed for 2,097 yards, just 9 yards short of the single season record held by Eric Dickerson. Incredible feats like these are usually what it takes for a running back to even receive serious consideration for the MVP award, and even still, they’d only win if a quarterback doesn’t manage to steal the hearts of media darlings everywhere.
In short, it’s going to be really difficult for Henry to bring the prestigious award back to Tennessee.
He’ll have to approach gaudy statistics, and become even more of a talking point around the league to start gaining some legit steam as a potential candidate.
Even if that does happen however, Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, and Russell Wilson are all in line to finish the regular season with impressive numbers of their own.
In a league where quarterbacks are more than likely to be the faces of almost every single team across the country, that only spells trouble for Henry’s MVP chances.