I asked Jeremy Reisman of SB Nation’s Lions website, Pride of Detroit, about the three players during his appearance Friday on the ‘Valentine’s Views’ podcast. His answer? They aren’t playing well at all for a Detroit defense that is 26th in points and 31st in yards allowed.
“‘Snacks’ has kinda fallen off a little bit of a cliff. He was critical of himself more than anyone else this week in Detroit’s struggles to defend the run,” Reisman said. “You follow ‘Snacks’ around in his entire career whether it’s with the Jets or Giants or whoever, wherever he goes a good run defense follows. So, the fact that the Lions have struggled through six games is probably the biggest shock of the entire team.”
Harrison’s Pro Football Focus numbers illustrate the cliff Reisman referred to. In the past six season, Harrison’s run grade has been above 90.0 five times, with his lowest being 87.1. This season, his run grade is 65.1. ‘Snacks’ has missed four tackles this season after missing one all of last year, and he has six run stops (1.0 per game) after getting more than 50 run stops in three of the past four seasons.
The Giants traded Harrison to the Lions last season for a fifth-round pick. Harrison, soon to be 31, could certainly rebound and have not only a terrific game against the Giants but find his dominant form for the remainder of the season.
Could this, though, have been a case of GM Dave Gettleman moving on from the well-paid Harrison just in time?
Per Reisman, neither Kennard nor Okwara have been impact players for Detroit, either.
“Those guys are OK, they’re good run defenders but the Lions really need a pass rusher right now and they’re not getting it from either guy,” Reisman said. “I think I saw a stat today that Devon Kennard is getting double-teamed fewer than the majority of edge rushers in this league, but he’s also beating his blocking at a way below average rate.
“That combination is obviously not what you want to see out of an edge guy. While Devon Kennard I don’t think was ever billed as a great pass rusher the fact that he isn’t providing anything in that aspect has been a big reason why the Lions defense has struggled so far.”
Kennard leads the Lions with three sacks, but they all came in Detroit’s season-opener vs. the Arizona Cardinals. He has only four quarterback hits since.
Okwara, a year after compiling 7.5 sacks, has just a half-sack and five quarterback hits.