3 – Titans D-line adjusting without Landry
Tennessee’s biggest offseason move was signing their top pass rusher, Harold Landry to a five-year $87.5 million contract extension. Landry put together a career season in 2021 with 12 sacks and 22 quarterback hits earning his first Pro Bowl nod. But Landry sustained a torn ACL the week before the season began and is now lost for the season.
Adjusting to his absence was a bit of a struggle last week for the Titans in their first game without him.
“I equated it to it being a bigger loss than having Derrick Henry injured last season,” said former Titans safety and radio analyst Blaine Bishop in an appearance on ‘One Bills Live.’ “And that sounds crazy for people to hear something like that, but Harold Landry is a bigger miss here because of what he does not just in the pass rush but his dropping into coverage, his versatility in his pass rushes with him lining up inside, outside. He’s just a key cog and that’s why they gave him 80 million dollars. He’s a really good player.”
The Titans tried to fill Landry’s role with a handful of players including Denico Autry, Rashad Weaver and Ola Adeniyi.
“They had multiple people trying to step up in that role and sometimes they did well and sometimes not so well,” Bishop said. “So now you can’t just rely on your front for to get after the quarterback. They’re going to have to do it with multiplicity and different schemes to create pass rush lanes.”
DT Jeffery Simmons and OLB Rashad Weaver were productive in the pass rush as each had a pair of sacks, two tackles for loss and a pair of quarterback hits against the Giants. But the rest of the defense had a total of one sack and four quarterback hits.
“Defensively, the thing that was a really big takeaway for me is their pass rush is just not the same without Harold Landry. It just isn’t,” said ESPN NFL analyst Dan Orlovsky while appearing on ‘One Bills Live.’ “And that showed up later on in that football game. And then also, I don’t want to take shots, but the fact that the Giants offensive line outplayed them physically – Saquon Barkley had an incredible game. He had 138 yards before getting touched. I mean, that is the offensive line of New York just moving Tennessee that does not happen often.”
Tennessee’s pass rush hopes are being pinned on Bud Dupree, who had a ‘get healthy’ year last season after signing with the Titans in free agency. It took him all last season to round back into form, but Week 1 showed signs that Dupree’s trademark burst at the snap is back.
“Dupree definitely look a lot better than last season,” said Bishop. “It was just one week but he did look like he was more explosive. He got some production there and was around the quarterback all day long. I didn’t see any of that last season, so I would have to say he is fully healthy and ready to rock and roll.And I think he’s going to have to fulfill Landry’s role as kind of that lead dog from the outside pass rush if they’re going to have any success, not only on defense, but just this season. “
Dupree had a sack, a quarterback hit and a fumble recovery in Week 1.