Former Steelers CB McFadden: 'you've got to be a little off mentally' to try to tackle Derrick Henry for 4 quarters

McFadden talks Henry, the art of tackling & Robert Spillane with The Fan Morning Show
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PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan)- The 5-0 Steelers boast the best rushing defense in the AFC heading into Sunday’s matchup with a fellow unbeaten, Tennessee.

The Titans, of course, boast the NFL’s top rusher in Derrick Henry who comes in fresh off a 212-yard performance on the ground against Houston.

Former Steelers cornerback, now CBS Sports analyst and host of the “All Things Covered” podcast with Cardinals’ cornerback Patrick Peterson, is fired up for this matchup.

“You’ve got to be a little off mentally to be willing to do that (attempt to stop Henry) for 4 quarters. But, I can’t wait to see this matchup because it’s strength on strength. The way we swarm the football, they’re going to have to do that for 4 quarters against Derrick Henry.

Derrick Henry is one of one. I don’t think we have ever seen a running back like Derrick Henry in the history of the game. The thing about Derrick Henry, he’s a big guy, he’s a strong guy, but he runs away from people. I mean that long run against Houston last week, he ran away from two DB’s (defensive backs). He created more separation when he got in the open field."

McFadden then ramped up the analysis with some colorful phrasing…

"He’s as strong as an ox and three bears. So one individual is not going to handle Derrick Henry, it has to be the entire defense. One of my favorite plays from the Browns game, I think it was 4th and 1 or 4th and 2, they tried to hit a perimeter run and the way we swarmed the football man it was like watching ants on some street crumbs. They attacked the crumbs like there was nothing else out there.

You have to have that same effort, that same mentality every time there’s a running play with Tennessee because if you do not swarm the football…. we’ve seen based on what he did to Josh Norman and a handful of other guys, one player is not going to get the job done against Derrick Henry.”

As a former NFL cornerback, McFadden knows that it may not take long for defenders to get a little apprehensive when going up against a bruising back like that.

“Shoot, it could happen in the 1st quarter. It depends on how many times they are forcing the corner to come up and tackle.

Tackling is all about the ‘want to.’ You’ve got to want to tackle. We see little guys be extremely good in tackling.

One of the best tackling secondary guys I’ve ever watched was Antoine Winfield who was undersized. But the ‘want to’ was there.

I can tell you this much from the cornerback standpoint, some of the guys I played against I mean, Fred Taylor, Jamal Lewis…the ‘want to’ was always there from us but man sometimes that body might tell you, ‘Ok, there’s got to be an easier way to get this job done.’ But there’s not an easy way. That’s why only a few guys have success at doing that. Haden, Hilton, Nelson, all those guys are going to do a really good job.”

Outside of just stopping Derrick Henry, McFadden was also really impressed with what he saw from Robert Spillane in replacing Devin Bush at middle linebacker last week.

“The moment didn’t seem too big for him. One thing I like is that he’s a physical guy. He stuck his head in the fan. If you play linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers, you have to be willing to stick your head in the fan. That has been the mentality when I was there, before I got there and since I’ve been gone.

Good teams don’t have to look outside the facility to find contributions. We’ve always felt like the answer to any of our problems on the roster is right there in the facility and hopefully that trend continues.”