Detroit Lions: Midseason acquisition this year’s MVP

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 28: Newly acquired Damon Harrison of the Detroit Lions #98 on the field against the Seattle Seahawks during the first half Ford Field on October 28, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 28: Newly acquired Damon Harrison of the Detroit Lions #98 on the field against the Seattle Seahawks during the first half Ford Field on October 28, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Lions have a few high caliber players. This player didn’t begin the season with the Lions, but he might end up being this season’s MVP.

This season has been a series of ups and downs for the Detroit Lions, to say the least. Plenty of lows like the debacle against the New York Jets and the Golden Tate trade. There have some highs as well including victories against the New England Patriots and their division foe and Week 17 opponent, the Green Bay Packers.

There was one that got me excited and plenty of hope for the future. That would be the acquisition of defensive tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison at the trade deadline.

I don’t think any player on this team has more of an impact than Harrison this year. One could argue he has been the best player on either side of the ball. For one, Harrison is a great locker room presence, high character guy, and selfless player at a thankless position.

Harrison is a savvy veteran that has helped many of the young players elevate their game. He has taken a lot of the players under his wing and became a strong mentor to each of them. As probably the best run-stuffing defensive lineman in the league, the mentorship he shows is second to none.

One of the players that have taken his game to a whole new level under Harrison is fellow defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson. Robinson started off rough the beginning of the season being a healthy scratch for the first game of the season. Since then, he and Harrison have been a wrecking crew.

Harrison leads all defensive tackles in the league with 74. He is eighth on the team with 43 tackles and he has played nearly half fewer games than everyone else on the Lions. Robinson is sixth on the team in tackles with 47 and he has missed two games. That should speak volumes to the dominance they bring to the field week in and week out.

With those two up front, they have done absolute wonders for the run defense. Before the Lions acquired Harrison the Lions were the worst at stopping the run. They were allowing 142.5 rushing yards a game at 5.14 yards per carry good for 29th and 31st respectively in the league. Since then, they are only allowing 79.2 yards per game and 3.4 yards per carry, both good for second in the league.

Harrison has also impacted quite a few other players. One being rookie Da’Shawn Hand. Hand was already having a very productive rookie season as one of the best rookie interior defensive lineman. Having Harrison right next to him has helped take Hand’s game to another level.

There is probably no better defensive lineman to learn from than Harrison. Hand is a young player and understands the value and opportunity playing alongside Harrison. With another year learning from Harrison, I expect to see an uptick in performance next year.

A couple of other players that have felt the impact of Harrison would be Jarrad Davis and Christian Jones. What Harrison does well is occupy gaps and control the line of scrimmage. This allows the linebackers to find the open gaps, shot them, and halt the play before it even begins.

Davis is a missile on the field. Sometimes his speed gets the better of him, but with those open gaps, he is able to use his strength and speed fully. He is able to easily read the play and stop them dead in their tracks.

Christian Jones has also seen an uptick in performance. Jones was not performing like some people thought he would from the beginning of the season. Ever since the acquisition Harrison, you could argue he is one of the most improved players for the Lions. Before Harrison, Jones only had 19 tackles. With Harrison occupying the line, he has doubled his numbers to 42 tackles.

The kicker about it is that he is doing it quietly. He isn’t Davis where is coming like a locomotive at full stream, but he is a smart player and sniffs out plays before it develops. Also, his coverage skills have significantly improved.

Harrison has impacted so many players in more ways than one ever since he arrived in the Motor City. He is a great mentor and a beast on the field. His play helps others step up their game. He is either making the play or he is impacting enough for someone else to make the play.

He has another year on his contract when the New York Giants extended him to a two-year contract. I don’t know about everyone else, but I am very excited to see the trio of Harrison, Robinson, and Hand next year. After getting a taste of it this year, I can’t wait to see what happens next year.

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General Manager Bob Quinn hit a home run with this trade. All he gave up to get Harrison was a fifth-round pick. My opinion is no fifth-rounder could match the productivity and value Harrison is going to give the Lions. Quinn shored up a position of need and brought in one high-class player to the Detroit Lions organization.