Pro Football Focus named New York Giants defensive tackle Damon Harrison their top run defender in 2017.
At least somebody is recognizing Damon Harrison’s greatness, which ESNY’s Robbie Stratakos recently spoke about. Josh Liskiewitz at Pro Football Focus writes that the group has named the New York Giants defensive tackle their top run defender in the league for 2017.
The site had Harrison ranked first in both run stops with 40 and run stop percentage, racking up an impressive 13.4 percent. Over the past three years, they have credited Harrison with 138 run stops, which is a ridiculous 44 more than anybody else in the league during that span.
He was a big reason why Steve Spagnuolo was able to have success during his second run as defensive coordinator, as Harrison spent two of those three seasons as a Giant (the first was with the Jets).
His ability to plug the middle makes it easier for defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon to make big plays. Having a big defensive tackle who excels at stuffing running backs lets them act primarily as pass rushers. They know that if they blitz too far and the running back gets by them, they have a safety blanket.
He also frees up the rest of the defense to do more. Having Harrison dominate allows the linebackers to make their first move towards a pass play. Whether they’re dropping into coverage or coming up to blitz, they can take their time diagnosing the play, as the run game can still be dominated by the defense: all thanks to Harrison.
He will undoubtedly have an important role in new defensive coordinator James Bettcher’s scheme. Bettcher’s defense was never lower than ninth in rushing yards allowed during his three seasons as the Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator. Bettcher’s emphasis on stopping the run fits well with Harrison’s ability to clog up the middle.