Mike Vrabel and his staff had the plan.
Kevin Byard had the throw.
Dane Cruikshank had the catch.
Corey Davis had the stiff arm.
Taywan Taylor had the juke.
Adoree’ Jackson had the pick.
Jurrell Casey had the sacks.
Ryan Succop had the leg.
But there is one hero from Titans 20, Texans 17 that accumulated no stats that you’ll find in the newspaper box score, but impacted the game to a massive degree: Harold Landry.
An ankle injury suffered during the Titans third preseason game delayed Landry’s NFL debut to Week 2, but it was well worth the wait.
His official stat line for the game reads 0 tackles, 0 sacks, 0 tackles for loss, 2 QB hits, but that undersells his effect on the game by a long shot.
Try this stat instead.
The Titans defense got six stops on 3rd down during the game. Landry played a big role in creating four of them.
The first of those four plays came on Landry’s first NFL snap. He came in to the game and immediately beat Texans rookie left tackle Martinas Rankin — also making his NFL debut — with a pure speed rush. He and Derrick Morgan force Deshaun Watson up in the pocket and in to the waiting arms of Jurrell Casey for his first of two sacks on the game.
After the hot start he really started to get things cranked up in the second half. This time he’s lined up at the top of the screen against Texans right tackle Julie’n Davenport. He uses his speed to beat Davenport around the edge, forcing Watson to step up to avoid his rush. Landry then finishes with good effort to double back and end up getting a hit on Watson as he releases a prayer in to double coverage. Landry’s early pressure busts up the timing of this play from the start though.
Here he comes again on the next drive on a 3rd and goal situation. Watch how quickly he’s able to get up field. He causes Davenport to completely abandon his kick slide here as the offensive lineman struggles to keep up with Landry’s speed. Landry then converts that speed to power and runs right through Davenport’s outside shoulder to force Watson to step up again in to the waiting arms of Jurrell Casey who strips the ball and nearly gets a huge turnover.
And finally, here is our fourth 3rd down play. It’s the biggest stop of the game for the Titans as this play kept Houston out of field goal range with just over 6 minutes remaining. This time he is back on the left side working against Rankin. Landry gives him his pantented dip move that he showed so many times during his career at Boston College. This is a clean win and if Watson doesn’t get rid of the ball the moment he does it’s a sack. Instead it counts as a hit and a pressure with the result being the biggest 3rd down stop of the game.
By the final drive the Texans had taken notice and began chipping Landry with backs or helping with tight ends on almost every snap.
While there is the obvious caveat that the Texans probably have the worst starting tackles in the NFL, it’s hard not to get excited about Landry’s future based on that debut. Especially when you consider that he was limited in practice earlier this week as he worked back from that ankle injury.
Landry is only going to get better as he develops some additional counters off that lethal speed rush, but this was an incredible start. It’s still amazing to me that this guy fell to pick 41 in the draft. His college tape was littered with stuff like this and then his combine measurements backed it up.
He deserved a sack for his efforts, but he helped Jurrell Casey pick up two. Landry will get a chance to get his first NFL sack this week against a Jacksonville team that just lost starting left tackle Cam Robinson for the season with a torn ACL.