Matt Waldman’s RSP NFL Lens RB Derrick Henry (Titans): Evaluating Behavior vs. Motivation

Matt Waldman’s RSP NFL Lens examines Derrick Henry handling of a Myles Jack blitz that could have been much better than the result. 

Pass protection: The task that puts more talented young running backs on the bench than injuries, fumbles, and dropped passes.  Here’s Derrick Henry executing a good blitz pick-up of Myles Jackson through the A-Gap of the Titans line.

All looks well until Henry becomes more concerned about what’s happening around him than the task at hand.

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Effort. Intensity. Motor. Words that can be tracked if you really want to chart them. Regardless, it’s what’s missing from this play and it costs the Titans a sack.

This isn’t to say that Henry doesn’t give full effort on a consistent basis. We can chart behavior but we can’t chart motivation. It’s possible that Henry underestimated Jack’s quickness or he thought that the quarterback already broke the pocket. Neither reasons were good enough for him to disengage from Jack, but neither tells us that Henry doesn’t want to block or sustain the effort.

Assigning an emotional motivation to a player’s on-field performance can lead to a faulty and sweeping conclusion about a player. Suddenly, a mental error or tired behavior is labeled as lazy, selfish, or fearful and those labels create an emotional bias for the evaluator and fan.

Stick to the behavior and you won’t place players in holes that aren’t true about the player and difficult to forget, even when presented with evidence to the contrary.

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