Detroit Lions: Building a dominant defensive line for 2019
After a season opening blowout loss to the New York Jets at Ford Field, the answer seemed to be a resounding no across the board. Williams, a former first round draft pick, seemed consistently overmatched and appeared in just six games for the Lions.
Robinson was benched in Week 1 after a rocky training camp. Ansah played just 19 defensive snaps in that game before getting hurt, a precursor to an injury played campaign, likely his last with the Lions.
For the rest of the season, the Lions seemed to be fighting an uphill battle when it came to their defensive front. They simply lacked the horses to carry out the defensive game plan. The radical shift in their standard defensive alignment also yielded a much longer adjustment period than many expected.
However, the midseason acquisition of defensive lineman Damon “Snacks” Harrison from the New York Giants proved to be quite a coup for the Lions. The hulking nose tackle/one technique was an ideal fit for the Lions; he clearly wasn’t right for the Giants new even man front under a new coaching staff. The Lions knew he would fill a large void up front – emphasis on large – that Williams couldn’t.
Harrison’s arrival marked a significant change of course for the Lions on the defensive line. Though the team still struggled to win games and ultimately sank to the bottom of the NFC North, the defensive line showed major progress, helping the team allow the 10th fewest rushing yards in the NFL in 2018. This after struggling mightily to stop the run to start the season.
Affixing Harrison also seemed to bring out the best in linemates Da’Shawn Hand and the aforementioned Robinson. Both could now fit perfectly into their gap assignments and implement their pedigree learned as teammates in a similar gap control system at the University of Alabama.