Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Eddie George weighs in on Tennessee Titans' chances in the NFL playoffs



January 12, 2022

The Tennessee Titans are the No. 1 seed in the AFC entering this year’s NFL playoffs. Because they have a bye this weekend, star running back Derrick Henry seems likely to return from injury in the divisional round. Henry suffered a fractured foot against the Indianapolis Colts Nov. 1 and returned to practice last week but has not yet been activated from injured reserve.

During a recent interview on The Rich Eisen Show, former Titans running back Eddie George weighed in on how far Tennessee can go in the playoffs.

“It is remarkable what he’s (Mike Vrabel) done,” George said. “Not just made the playoffs, but 95 players have gone on their roster during the year I think it’s an NFL record and they’re the No. 1 seed. You would think a team like that that’s decimated with that many injuries would be a 9-8, 8-9 team, just trying to sneak in the playoffs. They’re the No. 1 seed, beat quality teams, and he’s spent the last three or four years implementing his system and we’re seeing that system work no matter who you plug in, it works. Whether it’s D’Onta Foreman, another running back that you can just plug in there, they’re able to run the football with physicality at the line of scrimmage.”

Vrabel did not show his hand when asked about Henry during the Titans' postgame press conference Sunday after a win over the Houston Texans.

“We’ll see where Derrick is at when we get back to Nashville," Vrabel said.

“The first thing is gonna be to get healthy, to use that time to get healthy," Vrabel added regarding the bye week. "We started dropping there late in the game. Then try to improve. We were really doing a lot of good things defensively, and this will be good. This will be a good week. We’ll be able to coach them hard, and they’ll respond to that.”

Henry was not expected to play Sunday against Houston considering the Titans had already clinched a playoff berth and have played well without him this season. But Tennessee will likely need him if it wants to win its first AFC championship since the 1999 season. It remains unclear whom the Titans will face in their first playoff game, as they will host the lowest-seeded team remaining due to the NFL's re-seeding system. That could be one of three wild-card teams or the No. 4 seed Cincinnati Bengals.

Tennessee used an NFL-record 91 players this season because of injuries and COVID-19 issues that ravaged the roster, leaving the team without some of their most important players at various junctures — AJ Brown and Taylor Lewan missed four games each, Julio Jones missed seven and Henry missed nine. Thus, it came as no surprise that Vrabel said the bye week will be key for the Titans to get their team a bit healthier heading into the playoffs.

“They don’t give you a hat or a T-shirt for anything like that," Vrabel said. "But we understand that we’re in the Elite Eight. We’ve moved onto the second round of the playoffs without having to play a playoff game. We have to take advantage of the time. We have to be great as coaches. We have to be great on our training staff, our physical therapy, strength and conditioning. Allow these guys to get some time off but also heal and then get to work.”

Robbie Weinstein contributed to this report.

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