What could have been: Derrick Henry

Stop me if you heard this one; the Jaguars have to face an angry Derrick Henry. Considering that the team is 0-4, and dealing with outside noise unrelated to the players, now is the worst time to face the arch-nemesis of the Tennessee Titans. The AFC South division leaders are looking to bounce back from an embarrassing loss to the New York Jets.

Although the Titans were without their star-studded wide receivers (AJ Brown and Julio Jones), the Mike Vrabel-led crew lost a heartbreaker in overtime, which means the team is looking to regain their pound of flesh, on the schedule. The timing couldn’t have been worse.

Losing a heartbreaker in Cincinnati is one thing. Having to deal with unnecessary drama and questioning one’s alliance with a new leader and general manager is another. Unless you’ve been in a coma or don’t watch football, the nation is aware of a certain coach’s actions. While the players state that they will stand by him, the locker room amongst the players might sound a little different. Regardless of the stance, trust must be regained, and games must be won.

Enter in Derrick Henry, the league’s leading rusher and personal Jaguar tamer. The Jaguars could have obtained Derrick Henry in the 2016 draft but chose to go a defensive route by selecting Jalen Ramsey (traded to the Rams) and Myles Jack. Two chances, not one, to obtain arguably the most destructive force in football today. Derrick Henry is a Florida native. He ran roughshod in high school and won a National Championship in college. Maybe the lack of his acquisition was due to the need on the opposite side of the ball. We will never know.

However, what we do know is that the sixth-year Crimson Tide back loves to pummel the Jaguars. In his last five games against the Jacksonville jaguars, Derrick Henry has logged 104 rushing attempts for a total of 740 yards. He has nine touchdowns total against the Jaguar defense in those five games. 7.1 for those who are mathematically challenged. He has been unstoppable, and with the current personnel on the Jaguars roster, it appears that nothing is going to change.

His last visit in Jacksonville was successful but short. He sat out most of the fourth quarter because the damage was already done. When speaking with Mr. Henry, he stated that his running game and will are all a part of his preparation. He has no fear if players attempt to take shortcuts on him; he actually expects it. Henry gathered 215 yards and 2 touchdowns on that sunny day in December of 2020. At the time, it was Jacksonville’s 12th consecutive loss.

Fast forward to the present, where the Jaguars are 0-4, dealing with outside distractions, Losers of 19 straight, and slowly closing in on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers all-time consecutive losses record (26). Urban Meyer was brought in to change the mentality and structure of the team. Yet his current professional coaching career has been mostly a distraction. From the hiring of a racist strengthening and conditioning coach to the debacle known as the Tim Tebow experiment, Meyer’s decision-making has been questionable on and off the field. Everyone is entitled to an opinion; everyone is entitled to free speech, but only a few actually get to divulge into true entitlement. Those who live in the Ohio area know Urban just as well as those who were faithful fans of the Gators in the early 2000s. The real question is, how much can one achieve before being subjected to scrutiny?

Offensively, the Jaguar offense is moving in the right direction. Defensively, the players look fatigued by the end of the third quarter and have given up leads at the half twice. Just when one assumes that the team is starting to gel, pictures and video invade social media to disguise the progress that fans and critics assumed was being obtained. This team can’t seem to get out of its own way while Derrick Henry is visiting his home to move the Jaguars out of the way by force.

Meyer’s behavior has never been a secret yet has always been forgiven. The network with which he has surrounded himself has made him a leader with a form of diplomatic immunity. His true colors are shining through. However, as the pressure and expectations of being the ‘savior’ of Duval are becoming heavier with each passing loss and embarrassing moment. Personal faux paws are none of the public’s business. Affecting a public business is everyone’s business. Whispers are starting to be passed in pocketed thin air that if the Titans come into Duvall and blow out a winless AFC South team, he could potentially be gone before we see a real horror show of Michael Myers this Friday. However, if retained, Jags faithful should be more than confident that he will deliver a 2-15 season. Urban can’t stay out of his own way. He’s seemingly not built for the NFL and the scrutiny that comes with coaching a team in a complete rebuild. Let’s see if he is up for the grind to stop the eventual ground and pound.

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