The Detroit Lions made a blockbuster midseason trade that improved their defense. Now that player has been named PFF’s Run Defender of the Year.
Despite the addition of former New England Patriots’ defensive coordinator Matt Patricia as head coach in 2018, the Detroit Lions‘ defense struggled out of the gate. Particularly at run defense, allowing an average of 139.3 rushing yards to opposing teams through their first six games.
But prior to Week Eight, the Lions made a trade with the New York Giants in an effort to improve their run defense. In exchange for their fifth-round pick in 2019, the Lions acquired All-Pro defensive tackle Damon Harrison.
And the player lovingly known as “Snacks” transformed the Lions’ defense through the second half of the season. In fact, his presence dropped the previous run average of 139.3 rushing yards per contest allowed to only 92.5 yards per game.
As a result, Detroit fielded a top-ten run defense in the NFL last season, ranking 10th in allowed rushing yards at 110.1 per contest. And the presence of Harrison combined with the improved play of former second-rounder A’Shawn Robinson and rookie Da’Shawn Hand must be credited with this impressive rise.
Now, Harrison has been named Run Defender of the Year by Pro Football Focus, a football analytics site. Here’s what PFF’s Josh Liskiewitz wrote about the Lions’ impressive midseason addition to their defensive line.
“[Harrison’s] 50 total run stops led all defenders regardless of position this year, and his 30 with Detroit alone (10 games) would have ranked fourth among all interior defenders … 17 of his solo tackles were either for no gain or for loss, tying him with Carolina’s Kawann Short for first among the league’s players at the position.”
Liskiewitz would go on to mention that Harrison missed just one tackle all season. And that his 60 solo tackles was tops in the NFL of any defensive tackle against the run.
Damon Harrison was a brilliant addition to the Detroit Lions’ defensive line that transformed them from one of the worst run defenses in the league to one of the best. There are few players in the NFL who can do that. And Harrison deserves this accolade and much more for it.
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