Derek Freaking Landri

Posted: December 15th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 41 Comments »

Landri stuffs a Miami RB who was attempting to do harm to an innocent endzone.

I can say without hyperbole that Derek Landri is god’s gift to mankind. Landri hasn’t cured cancer or solved world hunger, but that’s what the offseason is for. Right now Landri is focused on single-handedly destroying the New York Jets. I’m sure Rex Ryan is trying to find a way to put Landri on Revis Island. Go ahead Rexie, but be careful what you ask for. Revis just might get evicted. Welcome to Landri Land.

People ask me if writing stuff like that is my way of making fun of Derek Landri. No, not at all. Landri is a terrific football player. I love goofing around. I used to say that my dream was marrying Megan Fox and adopting Eric Berry to be our son. That way we could get him to force his way onto the Eagles (ala Eli not wanting to go to the Chargers). I also threatened to fill an abandoned volcano in Delaware with hostages and kill them all if the Eagles failed to draft Berry. Now I’m trying to come up with a good plan for how to get Luke Kuechly onto the Eagles.

As you know, I do a lot of writing. Just being super-serious and saying normal things over and over would be extremely boring. Plus, with certain players I’m trying to emphasize something about them. I watch a tremendous amount of football. When I fall in love with a player or covet a player, that guy is doing something unique. Derek Landri isn’t the Eagles best DT. That is Cullen Jenkins. Landri is special, though. He’s not just an effort guy. He’s not just good at one thing. Landri is a darn good football player.

I’ve watched Landri going back to his college days. I was happy when the Eagles signed him, but wasn’t sure what to expect. I hadn’t closely studied him in a while. Landri played very well in the preseason. He jumped out at you when watching games live and was equally impressive when studying the games later on. I became an official fan of his after his sack celebration where he crawled on the ground and then acted like he threw a grenade. That was the ultimate combination of cool and goofy.

I was shocked when Landri got cut. To me, he’d flat out earned a spot on the team. Keeping Trevor Laws over him was a mistake. I was also shocked that Landri sat around with no one going after him. He did work out for the Falcons and Bengals, but they didn’t sign him. Fools. How could a guy like Landri go unsigned when DT play is so mediocre on so many teams?

First, there is a herd mentality in the NFL. “If the Eagles cut him, they must know something.” That kind of thing. Second, preseason games can give you a false read on veteran players. Veterans who are on the roster bubble play with a sense of urgency. Often they are facing mediocre competition and going all out to impress the team. Veterans can look really good. Remember how impressive Jarrad Page was in the preseason? I was blown away by how good he was. The difference is that Page didn’t play well in 2010. Landri had a very productive season for Carolina. His summer tape wasn’t an anomaly. Page’s was.

The other thing is that making it in the NFL takes some luck. A lot of guys just get lost in the shuffle. Back in 1995 Ray Rhodes signed DT Kevin Johnson off the street. He’d been on a Practice Squad in 1993, but was out of football in 1994 entirely. He worked in his parents liquor store. Johnson had 6 sacks for the ’95 Eagles. DE Daniel Stubbs had a nice career going, but was out of the league in 1994. He got cut by the Bengals in the summer of that year and just sat out the season. He had 5.5 sacks and a FF for us in ’95. Stubbs signed a good deal with the Dolphins after that year. Back in 2000 the Eagles needed help at S and on STs. The team signed Je’Rod Cherry off the street. He was a terrific STer that year. I remember wondering how this guy sat around for 3 weeks with no calls. Just because a guy is on the street or is unwanted doesn’t mean he’s untalented. It takes some luck to succeed in the NFL. Players need the right systems and/or the right roles to help them play their best.

Back to Landri. Some people have asked me why he’s not starting. Landri is being used perfectly by the Eagles right now. You know how in basketball there is a 6th man? That’s Landri. He doesn’t start, but he’s on the field a lot and he’s on the field in key situations. Don’t mess with a good thing.

Landri mostly plays RDT and the role of NT. He lines up between the C and LG and his job is to hold his ground if they get a clear double team on him. If possible, he should try and get upfield before they can engage him. Derek has good initial quickness. He can explode off the ball if he times the snap just right, but he’s smart enough not to rely on that on a regular basis. Derek is a wily veteran. He picks and chooses when to do certain things. He used a hard outside move near the GL Sunday and blew up a running play in the backfield. Sometimes Derek will fire into the side of the C and then try to peel off him and into the backfield. Derek plays with very good leverage. He’s only 6’2, 285 or so, but is able to hold his ground with effort and leverage. Remember Darwin Walker? He was bigger and stronger than Landri, but wanted no part of taking on double teams or holding his ground. Derek is willing to do the dirty work. That attitude is huge. DT isn’t a fun position. You must embrace the role if you’re going to succeed. Derek has a great motor and hustles in pursuit when the ball goes out wide or downfield. He also uses his hands really well. That helps him to shed blocks and fight off OL.

One of the things I love about Landri is that good things seem to happen when he’s on the field. On Sunday he was on the field for:

* Hunt’s safety (Derek was close to getting the safety himself)
* Babin’s strip sack and FR (Derek was right there to recover, but Patt beat him to it)
* Coleman’s INT (Derek hit the QB on the play)
* several short yardage stops
* TFL on GL run

That’s not bad for a backup DT. He was also on the field for other big plays this year.

* Babin’s strip sack to seal the Giants win (Derek made the FR)
* Asante’s pick-six vs ARZ

I haven’t had a chance to go through and catalog everything, but you can see that good things happen when he’s out there. That’s not all coincidence.

Landri is a free agent at the end of the year. He signed a 1-year deal so the Eagles can’t extend him, but they better bring this guy back. He’s proven to be a valuable player. Plus, I wouldn’t want anything to happen to all those hostages in the volcano. I never released them after Eric Berry went to the Chiefs. I knew they’d be handy in the future.

* * * * *

Just for fun…Trevor Laws numbers vs Landri’s:

Laws – 19 total tackles – 1 sack – 1 pass deflection – 2 TFLs
Landri – 16 total tackles – 1 sack – 1 pass deflection – 5 TFLs – 1 FR

Keep in mind that Landri played in fewer games and is also playing a tougher position.


  • Anonymous

    Good post.
    Another important point: Energy is contagious. It’s much easier to play hard when you see other guys playing hard in front of you. Landri definitely brings energy to the DT group. I’m not saying that Patterson/Jenkins/Laws/Dixon are low-motor, simply that they don’t have the relentlessness of Landri. Part of that is talent. Jenkins is a bad dude, Patterson is obviously very tough/durable, Dixon has the best size/speed combo of our DTs, etc. Landri HAS to try more to succeed.

    I love seeing Babin paired with Landri. It’s visible that they feed off each other.

    • Anonymous

      There is a difference in playing hard and being relentless. Landri is relentless. And I do think the other guys feed off that.

  • Anonymous

    I completely agree with this post…The trevor laws era is over. Jenkins, Dixon, Patterson, Landri and Thorton or another player should be the 5 DT’s….If we can’t get high enough to get a top 10 pick and Stills is sitting there, Washburn may be able to covince Howie to grab him. He reminds me a Jay Ratliff type….smaller but disrupts things. He seems like a perfect fit for the wide 9. Although, I still think LB is a bigger need.

    Anyway, Landri is everything you ask for in a player. If the Eagles don’t resign him and Mathis, then Howie needs to be put on the island with the people you are holding hostage.

    Our top three picks should be a MLB, and OLB and either a WR or a DT. I love Machlin and Desean, but Machlin always seems to be hurt and Desean is a cancer, although if they tag him he should be happy for next season as he will get a huge pay raise. I don’t think they will draft another safety high. Maybe 3rd or 4th round. They will let Nate, Jaqwan, Tom Nelson (if he’s resigned) and Kurt fight for the safety spots.

    Like you said before, our biggest FA signing this off season should be a seasoned DC….I think with a full offseason and a vet DC this defense could be special. I would love for them to continue to mix the wife-9 with a normal 4-3 once in awhile….maybe 4-3 on run downs and move Cullen or Thorton to DE for some beef instead of Babin. Then bring in a fresh Babin on passing downs.

    • Anonymous

      The thing that scares me about Still is feast on the shitty teams and doesn’t do anything against good OLs. Both the Wisconsin and Ohio State games he was eerily quite. I don’t care if he can beat Illinois OL. For me Still is basically a slightly less dynamic Muhammad Wilkerson.

      • Anonymous

        Still did struggle vs OSU/UW/NEB at the end of the year. That was discouraging. I wouldn’t spend a super high pick on him. We’ll see how he does at the Senior Bowl. Devon is a good player and would fit our system. Figuring out his value is the tricky part.

      • http://twitter.com/EWeaver34 Eric Weaver

        He may have worn down because he was really the only defensive linemen worthwhile on the team. Plus, he was a 4 down player.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=565087931 Jeppe Elmelund van Ee

        I wouldn’t pick him in the first round… I think he’s one of those borderline players that go in the first in a weak class, but really is a 2nd round type of talent…

  • James Casagrande

    Tommy, you made my day. When do we put in the Landri goal line package? He needs the ball in his hands.

    • Anonymous

      I think he did play some FB when he was with the Jaguars.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=565087931 Jeppe Elmelund van Ee

    Tommy,

    Your funny bits and pieces in your writing is what makes you such a good writer! I love reading your stuff and click on igglesblitz several times a day…

    Can I get your opinion about what’s going to happen with P. Manning if the Colts select Luck in the draft? I’ve read several blogs suggesting that Redskins would be the obvious place for him. Should we fear that?

    • Anonymous

      I do think Peyton will play elsewhere in 2012. Colts will have Luck.

      I don’t think any team is an ideal fit for him. WAS makes some sense, but they’ve got a porous OL and poor receivers. JAX is an interesting idea, but I’m not sure they’d go for it.

      SEA is the most interesting team for me. They have some talent on the OL and at WR. Pete Carroll would let Peyton have his way with the offense. Shanahan is a control freak. Could he let Peyton call plays and do his thing? Could they work together.

      CLE is another interesting team. They’ve got some pieces in place, but could desperately use a star QB.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=565087931 Jeppe Elmelund van Ee

        Interesting with the Shanahan thing. Hadn’t thought of that. Will Manning play for a team he thinks can win a Super Bowl or will he go for the money?

        Seattle sounds like a good fit (and we won’t have to play him twice a year)

        • Anonymous

          Manning would love to play for a SB team, but does want his cash. He’s never given Indy a hometown discount. Peyton likes big money.

  • Anonymous

    I just put my jersey no. 94 into the washing machine to do the Landri.

    • Matthew Butch

      Win

    • Anonymous

      Well played, sir.

  • http://twitter.com/sjampendk Sjampen

    “I also threatened to fill an abandoned volcano in Delaware with hostages and kill them all if the Eagles failed to draft Berry. Now I’m trying to come up with a good plan for how to get Luke Kuechly onto the Eagles.”

    First of all, thats funny!

    Second, i recommend not looking to Penn State for ideas. Poor Paterno getting sacked is bad enough. I think the best way is to go after Kuechlys family and getting close to them, so you can control Luke through them. Think Dexter season 4 meets Inside Man with Denzel and Clive Owen.

    Or you could just get hired as Andy Reids personal delivery guy at draftday and hold the food hostage if he doesn’t do exactly what you say.

    • Anonymous

      Personally I think Tommy you need to just go undercover to Radio City Music Hall and switch the envelopes they give Goodell. When the Eagles brain trust turn in a card that says “undersized DE tweener” Tommy replaces it with “even Tim Tebow is scared of Kuechly”

      • Anonymous

        I like your thinking. Willing to be a getaway driver?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=565087931 Jeppe Elmelund van Ee

        Haha, well played!

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QAFPMGBMKM5HPPPGKT5AVL53LA Gary

      Great show and great movie!

  • Anonymous

    I think Trevor Laws is another victim of the scheme shifting. A guy like Jenkins is big enough and athletic enough to play a lot of schemes, and not have to change his body. Guys like Laws and Patterson have to shape their bodies to their assigned roles.

    Laws was a high motor guy in college who penetrated and made a lot of plays, then Segrest gets hold of him (and why did they draft him for a two gap system in the first place?) and he bulks up, loses some quickness. Last year he regained some of that burst with a tough off season workout, and had 4 sacks, for some reason he didn’t come to camp in the same shape this year. He needs to lose 10 lbs and get a lot quicker in this system.

    They asked Patterson to be a NT and take on two blockers, with visions of Kelly Gregg dancing in their eyes (so they blew it in 1999, this time they’d get it right!). Unfortunately, Patterson was a 5’11 293 DT in college whose forte was great lateral movement along the LOS and quickness off the snap. Bulked him up to 310 lbs or so and got a guy who lost that lateral quickness, and his burst, but still struggled to anchor. Looks like he’s finally getting into shape for the one gap role he’s now playing. Could have been a monster “3″ with the right DC and line coach.

    Geno Atkins was 6’1 285 lbs coming out of college, Cincy grabbed him in the 4th rd and he’s having a great sophomore season. Landri is a lesser version, but this points to the sweet spot of the draft for the Eagles if they stick to a one gap system – athletic, undersized DTs in the middle rounds. But don’t reach for these guys, their physical limitations make them boom and bust, and there is safety in numbers both in insurance and in depth – because a key to getting production out of undersized DL is to rotate them and keep them fresh.

    • Anonymous

      Good insights. Laws was INCREDIBLY productive in college. Never understood why that hasn’t translated to the pros.

    • Anonymous

      You are correct that Laws is a victim of circumstance.

      I like Trevor and have wanted him to pan out. Just hasn’t worked.

      I do fault him for not coming to TC in better shape. He had a new DC, new DL coach, and was playing in a contract year. Doesn’t say much when you report heavy and have a mediocre season.

    • http://twitter.com/EWeaver34 Eric Weaver

      I was hoping for Watkins, especially that late.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=565087931 Jeppe Elmelund van Ee

        hoping for what?

  • Anonymous

    Way OT, but ex cowboy busted for drug distribution ring. Looks like Jerrah got rid of a time bomb just in time. This is too funny

    • Anonymous

      I heard he’s been watching Michael Irvin’s instructional videos.

    • Anonymous

      First Nate Newton. Now Sam Hurd. Plus Irvin. Not good.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QAFPMGBMKM5HPPPGKT5AVL53LA Gary

    Great article. The basketball 6th man is a perfect analogy. That’s exactly what Landri is, and he’s a great one.

  • Anonymous

    Landri was the guest on Eagles Nightly last night. Check out the vid if you think you can handle his greatness.

    http://www.philadelphiaeagles.com/multimedia/videos/Eagles-Nightly-DT-Landri-In-Studio/3f959c78-8eed-4373-bdd3-62ea03e1b349

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=565087931 Jeppe Elmelund van Ee

    Tommy,

    As austinfan implies, we can ‘afford’ to look in the middle rounds for DTs with our scheme! Is there someone you like? And is Washburn known for tutoring late round draftees to become good/great players?

    IF we draft a DT in April, I really want it to be a mid to late round pick!

    • Anonymous

      Derek Wolfe from Cincy is a guy that intrigues me for us.
      Need to watch the kid from Rutgers. Very productive.
      Fletcher Cox from Miss State could fit. Not sure about value.
      Drew Nowak from WMU had a real productive year.

      That’s a few names. Wolfe I like a lot, but still need to watch tape on him. Gotta see how he does vs double teams.

      • Anonymous

        If he is there in the 5/6th round we have no choice we must continue our late round Cincinnati draftapalooza

  • Anonymous

    Damn a FA pickup that worked….was an area of need….twice. Where are you morton? Response by Morton: Blind pig gets an acorn every now and then.

  • Anonymous

    Tommy,

    This is a great post – insightful, with good general conclusions gleaned from the specific. You are cementing your status as the best Eagles blogger/journalist/analyst out there. If old media still had a business model, they would have hired you by now.

  • Anonymous

    Peter King said on Shutdown Corner`s podcast that he sees Spag becoming Eagles new def. coordinator. Although I dislike Peter with bottom of my heart, I hope he`s right on this one.

  • Kammich

    good god, HowardMuddFacts is my new favorite thing in the history of the internet.

    • Kammich

      Howard Mudd also thinks @cutondime25 would get more carries if Castillo was O-coordinator because “Mexicans know how important running is”.
      1 Dec

      Howard Mudd just told Juan Castillo that the only thing slower than his ability to adapt his gameplan is Andy Reid’s metabolism. #oledefense
      1 Dec

      Alex Flanagan also reports that Howard Mudd asked Desean Jackson if he broke his hymen riding a bike as a kid or if its a recent occurrence.
      1 Dec

      I can’t take it anymore. so inappropriate and yet so amazingly hilarious.

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