As a former Bills receiver who was a member of three Super Bowl teams, James Lofton is often asked about his former team. Lofton, a CBS NFL analyst who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall Fame in 2003, was asked this week if the Bills’ Week 6 loss to the Titans was a wake call for Buffalo. Lofton said that Buffalo’s 34-31 loss to the Titans was less about them and more about the dominance of Titans running back Derrick Henry, who ran for 143 yards and three touchdowns against the Bills’ defense.
Lofton, who played with a Hall of Fame running back in former Bills star Thurman Thomas, says that Henry’s size — and the way he utilizes his physical attributes — has made him a cut above the rest of today’s running backs.
“There’s a huge gap between Derrick and the next best running back,” Lofton told reporters earlier this week. “It’s funny, if we had a quarterback who was 7 feet tall and was built like Shaq, that would be the equivalent of Derrick Henry and the rest of the running backs and the league. … Here’s one guy who just dominates at his position like nobody else. We have the Most Valuable Player award, but if we had the Most Dominant Player award, it would be Derrick Henry.”
Lofton offered a specific example of Henry’s dominance. He shared something that he observed during the broadcast of Tennessee’s Week 2 win over Seattle when Henry was used in the passing game.
“I started noticing that Derrick Henry is so big, he’s like that big tractor trailer truck that is making a U-turn in the street,” Lofton said, “and then when it turns, all of the other cars kind of part. So Derrick Henry would make that turn and you would see two defensive backs come up and then they’d go, ‘Whoa, you tackle him. No, you tackle him.'”
Henry’s success over the past two-plus seasons would suggest that he is the NFL’s best running back by a considerable margin. The league’s leader in rushing yards and touchdown runs the past two seasons, Henry became the eighth player in league history to run for over 2,000 yards in a single season in 2020. Through seven games, Henry once again leads the field with 869 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns. Henry is on pace to surpass Eric Dickerson’s single season rushing record, a record that has stood for 37 years.
If he can continue on his current pace, Lofton sees no reason why Henry wouldn’t be considered for league MVP, an award that has not been given to a running back since Adrian Peterson took home the honor in 2012.
“Derrick Henry for MVP is not a huge stretch,” Lofton said. “And with a 17-game season, I could see 22, 23, 2,400 yards. And when you smash an NFL record … you should definitely be in the conversation, and if your team does well. If your team is 13-4 or 12-5 and you’re the engine that’s drive it, why not be in the MVP conversation and Derrick Henry would certainly be in that.”