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Landry's Numbers Put Him in Class with NFL Elite

The Tennessee Titans outside linebacker is among the league leaders in sacks, tops them all in combined pressure statistics.

NASHVILLE – Harold Landry’s name may not yet carry the same cachet as edge rushers around the NFL like Cleveland’s Myles Garrett, Pittsburgh’s T.J. Watt and New England’s Matthew Judon.

But Landry’s numbers, especially this season, speak for themselves. Months from now, when the Tennessee Titans’ fourth-year outside linebacker is negotiating a new deal, you can bet he’ll remind franchise officials of that.

Coming into the week, the Landry ranked third in the NFL with 10 sacks, thanks to a stretch of eight consecutive contests with at least half a sack. He trailed only Garrett (13) and Watt (12.5) and then Judon (10.5) passed him – temporarily, perhaps – when he got one against the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday. All three have played in multiple Pro Bowls.

A different way to look at NFL stats, however, casts Landry in an even brighter light among edge rushers.

He leads the league when one combines four pretty important numbers – sacks, quarterback hits, tackles for loss and tackles. Landry’s 10 sacks, 15 quarterback hits, 10 tackles for loss and 52 tackles total 91, higher than the likes of Watt (84.5), Judon (83.5), Carolina’s Haason Reddick (80.5) and Garrett (80).

And it’s not as if all he does is rush the passer for the Titans’ much-improved defense this season.

“Harold is finding ways to impact the game and not just in the passing game either,” outside linebackers coach Ryan Crow said. “I think he’s doing a really good job of just trying to find his way around the ball.

“We have him in coverage sometimes. Sometimes we have him pressuring. Sometimes he’s able to rush and do things. So, his mindset this year -- and the way it’s always been since he’s been here -- is just to find ways to impact the game, and he’s playing at a really high level.”

Landry’s most recent sack came last Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. Despite the fact that right tackle Ryan Ramczyk pushed him down to the ground as he tried to bend toward the quarterback, Landry got up in a split second to pursue quarterback Trevor Siemian, eventually taking him down for a three-yard loss that helped stall the final possession of the first half.

“I pride myself on being a relentless rusher,” Landry said. “So, that was me being relentless.”

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That play made Landry the first Titans player to record double-digit sacks since Brian Orakpo in 2016. He now needs one to become the first player since Jason Babin in 2010 with at least 11 sacks. Babin totaled 12.5 that year on his way to the Pro Bowl.

There are probably a number of reasons for the jump in Landry’s sack totals from last year, when he produced a team-high five and a half of the Titans’ paltry 19.

One is that defensive coordinator Shane Bowen moves the 2018 second-round pick around on defense, making it harder for offenses to ready for him. Per Pro Football Focus, Landry has lined up 277 times on the left side of the line, 258 times on the right and has played a few more snaps in other spots as well.

“I feel like the coaches do a great job of moving us around, moving me around, putting us in position to make plays,” Landry said. “I guess that’s another thing. I pride myself on being versatile, so whatever (Bowen) asks me to do, I’ll do it.”

Second, the defense around Landry is playing at a much higher level than it was a year ago. Up front, Jeffery Simmons and Denico Autry are occupying defenders, giving Landry more freedom to pressure the passer. On the back end, the secondary is sticking tighter to receivers, allowing Landry and his fellow rushers an extra split second to find the quarterback.

“Some of our sacks are just … us getting sacks, but other times you can see they’re (covering) things in the back end and forcing the quarterback to hold the ball,” Landry said. “I like we’re definitely playing complementary football. We’re just helping each other out.”

Crow has also been impressed by the heightened focus he sees these days from a more mature Landry.

“One thing that really struck me this year that I’d never noticed is that I walk into the locker room before a game, and guys are getting taped, whatever their pre-game routine is, and he has his headphones on, looking at his notes,” Crow said. “He’s always preparing up until kick-off, and always wants to know the way he can impact the game and how he can be involved, what is coming and the effect he can have on the play.”

Should Landry keep dropping the quarterback – and raising his all-round game – at the current pace, it probably won’t be long before he starts getting mentioned with the best in the business at his position.

The facts and figures indicate he already should be getting that recognition.

“I think the numbers certainly suggest he should be talked about (with the top edge rushers),” Crow said. “I don’t like to compare guys, but I think Harold Landry is a name that should be talked about. It’s a product of everyone doing their job and going really hard. But like I said, he’s playing at a very high level.”