A few days ago, we began discussing how some players on defense get noticed, and some don’t. The outside pass rushers, for example, always have the spotlight on them. Muhammad Wilkerson is consistently in the backfield, so we hear his name a lot. Similarly, the defensive backs are seen all day long as well. They are exposed, and involved down the field, so they get noticed.
But what about the players that don’t get noticed? There are a lot of guys on defense that do the grunt work, but don’t make the highlight reel plays. Last week, we talked about one of these players, linebacker Demario Davis.
Today we are talking about another one of those players. Nose tackle doesn’t get a lot of talk, mainly because they are inside, occupying other offensive players, so his teammates can make plays. The Jets’ nose tackle is no different, so we are talking about everyone’s good buddy, Damon “Snacks” Harrison.
The nose tackle has a job to do in the running game, for example. His job is to occupy two blockers. If he takes up two blockers, guys on the side like Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson are free, with less opponents to beat, to make plays. AT 6’4″, 350 pounds, Damon Harrison fits that bill to a tee. One lineman cannot block Harrison, two must be used, which changes the jobs of the offensive linemen.
This is not seen in the boxscore for a guy like Harrison, but it doesn’t mean he isn’t doing his job. It means the exact opposite.
Another reason Damon Harrison is forgotten about is that he, like most nose tackles, doesn’t get a lot of sacks. Damon posted one for the entire year. The notoriety goes to the guys that get the sacks, not just the straight tackles. However, Damon was a top performer in this department. Our friends at Pro Football Focus list a stat known as “stops”, which refers to the number of solo tackles made that resulted in an offensive failure, such as a loss of yards.
Harrison was tied for second in the league with 39. Ndamukong Suh, for comparison, posted only 33.
Damon didn’t play much in the passing game, so most of his snaps were against the run. Per PFF, Harrison was by far the top defensive tackle in that category, with a rating of 33.2. The next closest was Brandon Mebane with a grade of 18.5. Not even close.
So you see, everybody looks at Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, and Quinton Coples. They look at exposed players like Dee Milliner. However, teams should not forget about Damon Harrison. In a lot of ways, he is the straw that stirs the drink. Without him, many of his teammates would not be as good.