In his sophomore campaign, Harold Landry was able to double his sack totals from 4.5 in his rookie year to nine sacks. On paper, that looks great. It looks like Harold Landry indeed took the next step and is on his way to becoming an elite pass rusher. However, if we take a closer look at the film, his development on the field does not exactly match the development of sacks on the stat’s sheet.
So what exactly is wrong? Why am I taking away from Harold Landry’s great statistical season? First, before we dive into the film, I want to preface this article by saying that I think Harold Landry is a good player for the Titans. My criticism in this article may seem harsh, but it’s because I know the Pro Bowl-potential that Harold Landry is capable of achieving. So remember, I’m not saying Harold Landry sucks.
I went into my 2019 film study on Harold Landry wanting to answer four questions: “How did Landry double his sack total?”, “Where did he improve?” “Where did he struggle?” and “Where does he have to improve?”.
How did Harold Landry double his sack total?
If we look back at all nine of his sacks this year, four of his sacks came from his outside bend/speed rush. Four more came from the quarterback holding onto the ball too long and rolling out of the pocket. Only one sack came from a counter move to the inside, and it was against a running back.
After a hot start to the season, getting eight sacks in his first 12 games, Harold Landry finished the season pretty dull with only one sack in his remaining seven games. He was almost a non-factor throughout the playoffs in terms of pass-rushing. Was it teams figuring out that Landry’s only effective move is his outside dip and bend?
This information still doesn’t answer the question as to how Harold Landry went from 4.5 sacks in 2018 to nine in 2019. The answer lies within his snap count. Harold went from playing 591 snaps in 2018 to playing 952 snaps in 2019. That’s a 61% increase in snaps from 2018 to 2019. If we put these stats together, it is pretty apparent what took place. The jump in sacks came from an increase in opportunity rather than any significant progression in his game. It is interesting that although his sacks jumped from 4.5 to nine, his quarterback hits remained at 14.
Where did Harold Landry improve?
In the past offseason, Landry talked about adding in some additional pass rush moves and counters to his game. This statement from Landry had everyone (including myself) salivating at the potential of a breakout season in 2019. Even though we technically did see a breakout season in terms of stats, we didn’t see him put these moves he had worked on during the offseason into fruition. Landry would rarely attempt, let alone effectively use a counter move to his outside speed rush.
If we look at the video above, a majority of Landry’s best quarterback pressures come from one move: the speed dip and bend move. Harold is exceptionally effective at dipping his shoulder below the hands of the offensive tackle and bending the corner. It’s apparent that he has this move mastered. However, it was a move that was already well-refined coming out of college.
To answer the question, I didn’t see any substantial improvements in Landry’s pass-rushing ability from 2018 to 2019. This observation is not to say Landry is bad because he was already very solid coming into the season. However, it does start to raise concern as to how high Landry’s ceiling is as an edge rusher moving forward.
Where did Harold Landry struggle?
Watching the Titans’ final playoff game against the Chiefs, it was evident that the Titans needed some pass-rushing help. Without sending more than four pass rushers, the Titans could not get to Patrick Mahomes, giving him too much time to operate. Landry was part of this issue.
Looking back at NFL.com’s pre-draft profile for Harold, some of the phrases that stood out to me were “in need of a more diverse rush approach,” “still learning to string moves together,” “basic, inside move,” and “lacking consistent grit at point of attack.” The concerning part about this draft profile is that his weaknesses remain accurate today. It has been two years into his NFL career, and there have been very minimal improvements in his pass-rushing skillset.
However, I did find a few instances of him effectively landing some counter moves.
In this first clip, he gets an inside swipe move, forcing the quarterback to run out of the pocket.
In this next clip, he effectively uses a spin to the inside to cause the pressure.
Finally, here Landry gets a swim move inside to pressure Tom Brady.
As you can tell from the clips above, Landry is indeed capable of executing some counter moves. However, the caveat to these clips is the level of competition. The first two reps are against Roderick Johnson (Texans’ third-string right tackle), and the last rep is against a tight end.
Harold rarely used counters effectively. When he did, it was against the lower-level competition. Now up against some better offensive tackles, it was a completely different story.
For example, against Ryan Ramczyk, Landry employs a spin move inside to no avail. He does choose the right time to employ this move, as Ramczyk has set outside for his speed. However, Harold gains little ground and fails to bypass Ramczyk’s inside shoulder with his spin. As a result, when he spins, Ryan is still right in front of Landry.
Now against Laremy Tunsil, Landry attempts to string some moves together. He initially attacks Tunsil with a chop move to the outside and tries to counter back in with a spin. Tunsil does a great job of recovering his hand placement after the chop to eradicate the following spin.
Now in the playoffs, Harold went up against Ronnie Stanley, another talented offensive tackle.
The Ravens left Ronnie Stanley isolated out on an island with Landry. This situation heavily favors Landry. It should be a dangerous scenario for Stanley being out in space one on one with a twitched up speed rusher like Landry. The Ravens were not afraid of at all. Knowing that he does not have an effective counter move, all that Stanley has to do is set quickly for the outside to neutralize Landry’s speed. These are scenarios that Landry has to win if he wants to become an elite pass rusher.
Although he had some success using his counter moves against these higher-level offensive tackles, Landry’s pass rush moves overall just remain impotent.
Where does Harold Landry need to improve?
Ultimately, I’m showing you all these clips to explain how Landry needs to develop some legitimate counter moves to compliment his bend and dip. The bend and dip is a great move, but that will only take him so far. He’s been able to land some of these counters on lower-level talent. The great tackles, like Ramczyk, Tunsil, and Stanley, still neutralize him. That is a sign that these moves still need to be refined.
The lack of variety in his pass rush moves prevents him from developing an exact pass-rush plan. It also prevents him from stringing moves together methodically. The lack of moves makes guarding Landry extremely predictable.
As he said in the offseason, Harold tried to incorporate a spin move into his arsenal this season. It was just not effective. It may be the slowest spin move ever seen. This has to improve.
Harold has stated in interviews before that he models his game after Von Miller. This is most evident in his dip and bend move. However, the elite pass rushers (like Von) also go into there pass rush with a plan on different ways they can break down their opponent.
Landry can’t develop a plan because he doesn’t have different ways to beat his man. He has become far too one dimensional. With some other pass rush moves diversifying his approach, he will keep opposing tackles guessing on what he will do next. That is the scariest thing that you can face as an offensive tackle, unpredictability.
If he wants to become the next Von Miller, he will need to diversify his moves. He will also need to start implementing them into a legitimate pass rush plan. If not, he runs the risk of following a career path similar to that of Vic Beasley. However, it is still really early in Landry’s career. He is only 24 years old this offseason and has plenty of time to develop.
Keep in mind that it’s still imposing that he was able to get nine sacks this season practically using only one effective pass rush move. Imagine what he could do with more moves. With a solid offseason of refinement and development, I can easily project Landry to hit double digits in sacks in 2020.
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