With the sweat pouring down and his traps bulging out it was clearly a different Harold Landry who stepped up to mic Tuesday at St. Thomas Sports Park.
The Titans 2018 2nd round pick out of Boston College looked like a different player and sounded like a different player.
Landry said he took about a one week vacation after the season but he has been at the Titans facility ever since getting bigger, stronger, faster, smarter and more dangerous.
“No one sets higher expectations for myself than myself,” Landry said. “I expect a lot out of myself! That’s why I take this game so seriously. You can ask my wife how hard I’m at it at home when it comes to football and I have higher expectations of myself than anybody. You know I expect myself to be a game changer.”
He had 4.5 sacks as a rookie and came up with a game-changing strip sack against Carson Wentz when the Titans rallied to beat the Eagles in overtime.
Landry said he has put on 5-10 pounds of muscle since the season ended, but he did not need to, it was obvious.
Head coach Mike Vrabel said the transformation was not entirely unexpected, “He understands, I think, after his first year in the NFL that players are bigger, they’re just stronger, and that he probably was going to have to be a little bigger and stronger himself to be able to withstand and be productive.”
The body transformation is only a part of the season plan for Landry who is also working to add to his pass rushing repertoire. He is known for an explosive first step and the ability to bend off the edge and close on the quarterback. Pass rushers generally cannot live on one move though.
Landry says it is a strategic enhancement that will set him up for success each week, “I’m developing these moves in the off-season so when I’m preparing for a game and if I see a guy who’s a low puncher that’s good for a chop. If I see a high puncher that’s good for a dip, get under him. I’m developing these moves so when I go into a game I can use more than one move that I know will work.”
The Titans defense was strong last season ranking 3rd in points per game (18.9) and 8th in yards per game (333). The Titans theme in 2019 though is “good to great” and if the defense is going to be great it needs more game-changing plays. That means sacks, havoc in the backfield and creating turnovers. The Titans created only 17 turnovers last season ranking 22nd in the NFL.
So can Landry be the piece to the puzzle that develops into a game changer for the Titans defense?
Vrabel says that is the expectation, “Having worked him out going all the way back to before the draft, and spending a lot of time with him, again, that’s the vision that we have for him. That’s why he’s here, to try to help us.”
As Landry answered question after question he cooly laid out his planning, his work and his expectations for the coming season. His confidence was obvious, it poured off of him.
The work has clearly made a difference, but he said so has the experience, “I think the game speed has definitely slowed down, I’m much more relaxed out there. Going into my second year I feel like last year was a big learning experience for me.”
Are the moves coming along? Will he be ready? He said we will just have to wait and see, but he also said that with plenty of confidence behind it.