The trade for Damon Harrison was immediately fruitful for the Detroit Lions. Now, Pro Football Focus believes Snacks will lead a top-five run defense.
The Detroit Lions‘ run defense did a complete one-eighty last season. And that’s due in large part to a midseason trade for defensive tackle Damon Harrison. Nicknamed Snacks, Harrison was shipped to Detroit in late October via a trade with the New York Giants at the cost of a fifth-round selection.
The trade started paying immediate dividends for the Lions. Without Harrison in the lineup through Week Seven, Detroit allowed an average of 139.3 rushing yards per game. With Snacks in the lineup starting in Week Eight, that average dropped to just 56.0 rushing yards per contest. That’s a significant impact.
When it was all said and done, the Lions ended up fielding a top-ten defense in 2018, allowing 5,360 yards to opposing offenses last year, the tenth lowest total in the NFL. And their scoring defense ranked them tied for 16th, allowing 22.5 points per contest.
Undoubtedly, the presence of Harrison combined with the learning curve of new head coach Matt Patricia’s Super Bowl-winning defensive scheme helped Detroit end a disappointing 6-10 season with hope for a brighter future. Now, a football analytics website is projecting the Lions will field a top-five level run defense in 2019 … as long as Snacks is involved.
Pro Football Focus (PFF) recently ranked the NFL’s top run-defenses ahead of the 2019 regular season. And the Lions were ranked fifth on their list. The main reason why, as PFF’s Michael Renner explained, was due to the expected presence of Harrison as the centerpiece of Motown’s front seven.
"“With Damon Harrison, you’ll have a top-10 run defense almost by default. He’s led all defensive tackles in run-stop percentage each of the past five seasons. It’s an unbelievable string of consistency considering how quickly the turnover at a position like nose tackle is in the NFL.”"
The 30-year-old Harrison is seeking a new deal in Detroit, despite being under contract for the next two seasons. Snacks skipped both OTA’s and minicamp this offseason. And it is unknown whether he’ll attend the start of training camp without a new contract in place.
According to the Detroit Free Press, Harrison’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, was scheduled to meet with the Detroit Lions’ brass this past week. Fans can only hope a deal gets done soon as having Snacks in the lineup come Week One, the player at the very heart of their defensive resurgence, should be priority number one for a Lions’ team looking to climb out of the NFC North’s basement.
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