Detroit Lions: What’s wrong with Damon Harrison?
By Kellen Voss
Defensive tackle Damon Harrison has gotten off to a slow start. And in order to remain competitive, the Detroit Lions defense needs Snacks to step up.
Part of the reason that the Detroit Lions sit at an impressive 2-1-1 record to start off the year is because the defense has improved drastically since last season. The secondary has done a great job smothering receivers, and young players in the front seven such as Jahlani Tavai have stepped and played well.
Even though the defense has been stellar to start off the season, one high-paid defensive linemen has been rather underwhelming so far this season.
Even though the Lions signed defensive tackle Damon ‘Snacks’ Harrison to a pricey contract extension in August, the run-stuffer has been rather unimpressive so far in 2019, only totaling nine tackles, one tackle for loss and three passes defended through four games.
Harrison was previously known as one of the best run-stopping defensive tackles in the league, but in the first four games of the season, the Lions have allowed more than 100 yards rushing and more than 4.0 yards per carry in each of their games.
This mediocre run defense has partially been to the fault of Harrison, as he has often gotten pushed back at the point of attack, allowing the opposing running back to capitalize on the exposed A-gap and run amuck once passing the line of scrimmage.
Harrison’s Pro Football Focus advanced statistics have reflected his struggles. Even though he posted an incredible 89.9 grade at the end of last season, through four games this year, he has an overall grade of 59.1, which is below average.
Many Lions writers have struck up this decline to general fatigue, but the defensive tackle denied being tired following the Week 1 tie to the Arizona Cardinals. Here’s what Harrison told Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press …
"“I wasn’t out there much in the fourth quarter because I wasn’t in the defensive sets that were out there on the field. We had an 18-point lead. We had our defensive guys on the field to try to preserve the lead. So it wasn’t a situation where I was tired. I played (27) snaps.”"
Even though Harrison denies fatigue as being a factor to his slow start, the Lions being on a bye week helps the 350+ pound linemen to recover and recuperate to get a fresh start in Week 6’s match-up with the Green Bay Packers.
Harrison also needs to bring his A-game due to the injuries the Lions have sustained on the defensive line. Defensive tackle Mike Daniels left mid-game in Week 3 and has yet to return, while second-year linemen Da’Shawn Hand has been slow to return from his elbow injury.
Not having these two players for the next few weeks puts a lot of pressure on the rest of the Lions defensive line. With Trey Flowers, Romeo Okwara and A’Shawn Robinson all racking up sacks, forced fumbles, and fumble recoveries, defenses have put less attention on blocking Harrison.
Harrison needs to prove that he was worth that pricey extension was worth it in the next few weeks. If he can return to his elite status, the Lions defense can improve from above-average to one of the top-5 defenses in the league.