Tennessee Titans pass rushers have stepped up to replace Harold Landry

Tennessee Titans Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports
Tennessee Titans Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports /

Over the past year and a half, no one in the NFL has dealt with as many injury issues as the Tennessee Titans. Before the season even started the Titans had to put their Harold Landry on I.R. which hurt the defense in every way possible.

Landry’s injury isn’t the only one that has plagued the Titans’ pass defense. Kristian Fulton missed Week 2, Elijah Molden has been on short-term I.R. for the entire season, and Amani Hooker missed Week 4 with a concussion.

That doesn’t even include depth pieces like Lonnie Johnson and Ugo Amadi being unavailable for stretches because of the NFL version of bumps and bruises.

Despite that, the Titans’ defense ranks 11th in sacks and 9th in yardage lost by sacks.

How have the Tennessee Titans been able to do that? Well, three players have stepped up.

Tennessee Titans pass rushers stepping up and making plays

Jeffery Simmons is amazing. The only reason I bring this up is that he isn’t one of the three players that have been dominating on the EDGEs, but his presence makes everyone better and the attention he draws opens things up for everyone.

After Simmons, the next person we have to talk about is Rashad Weaver.

The second-year man out of Pitt was supposed to be a backup this season, but he took over the starting job after Harold Landry’s injury. All he has done since getting the starting job is lead the team with 4 sacks and get a crucial forced fumble in Sunday’s win against the Indianapolis Colts.

In college, he won with linear speed and a powerful punch, but he has developed a bend to go along with his strong punch. That counterpunch has served him well and right now he looks like a home run draft pick.

The other obvious mention is Denico Autry. In 2021, Autry finished the 18-game stretch with 10.5 sacks and he was the perfect example of what a hybrid DL should look like in this defense.

After missing training camp with a hand/wrist injury, he started off the season slow as he worked into game shape. However, in his last 2.5 games (the starters sat out the second half vs Buffalo) he has 3 sacks a 5 QB hits.

When the Titans need another big body to line up at EDGE opposite Rashad Weaver, they clearly have their guy.

Something that isn’t getting talked about enough is the impact that Bud Dupree has when he is on the field. Trust me, I understand the frustration with Dupree being on the injury report so often, but when he is on the field the defense is so much better.

Twice this season Bud Dupree’s speed has created a lane for an interior pass rusher to win and force a fumble, and twice this season he has recovered that fumble for the Titans. Sometimes impact extends beyond the box score and when he is on the field you can expect big plays to happen much more often because of what he creates for the other defenders.