After finishing in the bottom three of the NFL in sacks last year, the Tennessee Titans backed up the Loomis truck and shelled out $104 million to bring in Bud Dupree and Denico Autry to solidify their front seven.
But four games into the 2021 season, it appears the solution to the Titans’ get-to-the-quarterback problem might have been on their roster all along.
Outside linebacker Harold Landry has led the Titans in sacks each of the last two seasons. And through the first four games of this year, he has been Tennessee’s best pass rusher hands down.
Landry leads the NFL in QB pressures. Depending on which analytics site you prefer — Pro Football Focus or Pro Football Reference — he either has 24.5 pressures (PFF) or 17 (PFR).
In addition, Landry leads the league in QB hurries (nine), is tied for fifth-most QB knockdowns (five), has a team-high 13 blitzes and 2.5 sacks, and has a pressure rate of 22 percent. And the scary part is, he’s not even firing on all cylinders yet.
“I do appreciate [Landry stepping up his game],” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said last week. “He certainly flashes and has played consistent. His instincts, his awareness and his execution of the game plan was perfect [against the Colts]. I think in the pass rush, he is playing well when he is on the line of scrimmage, off the line of scrimmage. I have always like Harold. Just have to keep going.”
Among edge rushers this season, Landry has the fifth-best pass rush win rate (30 percent) — topping the 22 percent he was at last season, which ranked ninth. As a defense, the Titans rank 13th in pass rush win rate (46 percent) this season, also besting last year’s mark of 42 percent, which ranked 17th league wide.
But where Landry is strongly thriving is pressuring the quarterback. He jumped from 2.12 pressures per game last season to 4.25 this season, and he is one of just three edge rushers with double-digit pressures in a single game this year.
The 25-year-old had a career-high 12 pressures against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 3, and his 37.5 percent pressure rate that game was the third-highest in a single game since 2016, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.
“[Pressure] is just the first step to getting sacks,” Landry said last Friday. “I just feel like I’ve got to keep being relentless, getting after the quarterback, and [the sacks will] come.”
Landry is currently on pace to set new career highs in QB hurries, QB knockdowns, QB pressures and sacks. For the first time since Brian Orakpo in 2016, Tennessee could have an edge rusher capable of producing double-digit sacks.
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