Arguably the biggest component of last year’s improved New York Giants defense, defensive tackle Damon Harrison is focused not just on the personal accolades but on getting his team some more wins this year.
Harrison was a major reason why the Giants ended a four-year slide of missing the postseason, returning to the playoffs only to lose in the Wild Card round at the Green Bay Packers. But while it was a big year in 2016 for Harrison, signed as a free agent last offseason from the crosstown New York Jets, he is hoping for a bigger year this time around. A bigger year personally, he said on Tuesday, but especially for his team. Harrison, nicknamed "Snacks" by former Jets head coach Rex Ryan, was asked about his personal goals for this fast-approaching season.
He didn’t bite and instead focused on his team and not the statistics.
“I think we can win a lot of games. Whether that’s me getting double-digit sacks or not. That’s just a personal goal of mine,” Harrison said. “I have a number in my mind that I’m chasing.”
That number, he says, will remain private: “I can’t do that, man, then you’re going to try and hold me to it. If I don’t get it, ‘Snacks’ is a liar.”
To that end, analytics site Pro Football Focus graded Harrison as the best run-stopper among interior defensive linemen last season. A year ago, Harrison had a career high of 86 tackles in helping the Giants turn a dismal defense into the second stingiest unit in the league last year (only the New England Patriots allowed fewer points per game in 2016).
But sacks have never come in bundles for "Snacks," who did have a career-high 2.5 sacks a year ago but has just four total sacks as he enters his fifth year in the NFL. He said this year he is working on improving that number.
“Get lighter, quicker on my feet. Have the same approach against the pass as I do against the run. But if you notice, I stop my feet a lot, you know what I mean? Anytime I’m pass rushing and that’s just me overthinking things, trying to process the blocking schemes, how are they blocking me,” Harrison said. “But, just letting loose and running up the field every now and then. Like everybody else does. I want to do it, too.”