When free agency kicked off before the 2021 season, the first big move that the Tennessee Titans made was agreeing to deals with a pair of EDGEs to bolster their pass rush.
Denico Autry has been a clear success and he has been one of the NFL’s best pass rushers over the last two seasons. You would be hard-pressed to find a Tennessee Titans fan who would give that signing anything less than an “A” grade.
Bud Dupree on the other hand has been more polarizing, and that is mostly due to his health and not his performance on the field.
Whether it is clear or not, the Tennessee Titans’ defense functions at another level when Dupree is playing. Last year, Harold Landry had his best season as a pass rusher and a large part of that was what Bud Dupree did on the other side of the defensive line.
To demonstrate the difference in when Dupree wasn’t and wasn’t on the field, just look at the total sack numbers in 2021:
-The 11 games when Bud Dupree was active the Titans averaged 3.5 sacks per game
-The 7 games when Bud Dupree wasn’t active the Titans averaged 2 sacks per game.
The argument against Dupree’s impact last year was that he was a good supplemental pass rusher, but that doesn’t mean that he was worth the $16.5 million AAV he was getting.
Well, let’s look at his impact this year with Harold Landry on I.R.
Bud Dupree continues to show out for Tennessee Titans
While Bud Dupree has once again struggled with some injuries, he has played more than 12 snaps in 3 games and he has missed or played less than that in 4 games.
-The 3 games with more than 12 snaps, the Titans averaged 3.7 sacks per game.
-The 4 games with 12 or fewer snaps, the Titans averaged 2 sacks per game.
His impact is nearly identical to last season even without a star like Harold Landry on the other side. In fact, through seven games he is actually making an even bigger impact than he was last year.
The biggest difference between this year and last year is that Bud Dupree is the one getting the sacks instead of Harold Landry. In each of the three games where Dupree has played more than a dozen snaps, he has had a sack.
Over the course of a season, that 1.5 sack per game differential turns out to be the difference between a pass rush with 34 sacks and a pass rush with 60 sacks. A player that can help a defense that much is definitely worth $16.5 million AAV.
Whether they are impacting the pass rush directly or indirectly, those two players fit perfectly in this defense and the Tennessee Titans have to be excited about the return that they have gotten. This offseason they are going to have some interesting decisions to make in terms of cap space, but no matter what happens at that point you have to look at what Bud Dupree has done for this defense and consider it a smart move.