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How midseason Harrison trade changed Detroit's defense

As it turns out, one of Bob Quinn’s most shrewd acquisitions during his time as Lions general manager came together in just a manner of hours.

His trade this season for Giants defensive tackle Damon Harrison immediately changed the direction of Detroit’s defense not only this season but for seasons to come.

“Really, it was a situation where, when you’re evaluating trades, you have to really look at the scheme of the other team,” Quinn said. “Because if you look at it, the Giants were kind of going through a little bit of a scheme change from last year to this year.

“Damon Harrison, in my opinion, can play in any scheme. That’s my opinion. I don’t think the Giants probably saw it that way, so they were willing to move him, and that trade actually happened very quick. That was like a matter of hours from the first call to when it got finished.”

Harrison became the first defensive tackle in league history to finish a season with 80-plus tackles, nine tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks and two forced fumbles.

After Harrison joined the Lions, Detroit held opponents to under 65 yards rushing in five games. The 925 rushing yards against Detroit after his acquisition were the fourth fewest in the NFL, and the 3.76 average per rush was second lowest.

Quinn talked during his Friday press conference about there being a need for more playmakers on either side of the ball. Well, he certainly acquired one midseason with Harrison.

“I think, when we got Damon here, he kind of brought a stability to that room,” Quinn said. “We signed Sylvester Williams in the offseason and that didn’t really work out. We came in and we kind of had a void there, and we thought that was a really good value for that trade at that time.”

It also says something about Harrison’s ability and impact when guys playing around him elevate their game. Linebacker Jarrad Davis, defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson and defensive lineman Da’Shawn Hand all benefitted from playing directly around Harrison. Looking ahead, the defensive line, and particularly the center of that unit, looks really strong.

“Our run defense for that stretch of six or seven weeks, we were right near the top of the league, which really helped the team kind of settle down, helped the secondary kind of concentrate on some of the skill players we had to defend,” Quinn said.

“And to go along with the other guys, I thought A’Shawn had a good year. I though JD (Jarrad Davis) really stepped up, kind of expanded his skillset as a linebacker. Romeo (Okwara) obviously was a different situation where that was a good addition for us as well. So, it’s a strong suit right now. Hopefully, that looks the same here come September.”

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