The Pittsburgh Steelers shut down the Nick Chubb-less Cleveland Browns rushing attack on Sunday. Mike Tomlin's club gets no such reprieve facing a full-force Tennessee Titans offense in Week 7.
The Steelers' second-ranked run defense faces Derrick Henry, the NFL's rushing leader, Sunday. Henry runs like if a sledgehammer had the agility of a lightsaber.
Mike Tomlin knows his defense is in for a long day tackling the Titans' monster.
"There are people that are intimidated by him, and there are tangible things to be intimidated by," Tomlin said of Henry, via the Steelers Depot. "This is like Bud Dupree running the football. This guy gets into your secondary, it's like trying to tackle a guy like Bud, except he's faster than Bud. You can see DBs having issues with that. Hopefully, we minimize the amount of time that our guys are in those circumstances, and hopefully, when our guys are in those circumstances, they do what they have to do-they do what the job requires them to do".
Bud Dupree is the Steelers' pass rusher. He's listed at 6-foot-4, 269 pounds. Henry stands 6-foot-3, 247 pounds. Once again, Tomlin is spot on in his analogies.
Pittsburgh has allowed a 100-yard rusher once since the start of 2019 -- Week 17 last year vs. Baltimore RB Gus Edwards (130 yards on 21 carries).
Henry, who led the NFL in rushing in 2019 with 1,540 yards, has nine games with 100-plus yards rushing since 2019 (tied with Chubb for most in NFL).
Once again, Henry is leading the NFL with 588 rushing yards through five games. He's on pace to be the first player to win the rushing title in back-to-back seasons since Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson in 2006 and 2007.
Since a slow start to 2019, Henry has been on a tear. The bulldozer generated 2,068 rush yards in his last 16 games (including playoffs). Last week he rumbled all over Houston, gobbling up 212 rushing yards, including a 94-yard TD.
The 26-year-old back generated two rushing TDs in each of his last three games. Tomlinson is the last player with two or more rushing scores in four straight games. Tomlinson actually did it in eight straight games in his 2006 MVP season.
The Steelers have been stout against the run this season, allowing just 66.2 yards per game. Missing Bush, however, is a big blow to the middle of Tomlin's defense.
Henry has had fewer than 100 rush yards in each of his five previous games versus a top-five run defense (based on rank entering the week). The most rush yards in any of those games: 75 in Week 8 of 2019 against Tampa Bay. In those five games, Henry averaged 8.8 carries per game, 32.0 rush YPG, and had 0 rushing TDs, per NFL Research.
Tomlin knows the Titans will feed the ball to Henry plenty in Sunday's matchup of 5-0 teams, with the AFC lead on the line. Maybe the Steelers can prepare for Henry by handing off to Dupree a few times in practice this week.