Amidst all the bad things that happened to the Detroit Lions on Sunday against the Chicago Bears, the one saving grace was their run defense. Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen combined for just 36 yards on 18 carries (2.0 YPC). This is a team that ranked seventh in rushing DVOA coming into Week 9 and the Lions completely stopped them.
Most credit goes to Damon Harrison Sr., who led the Lions with six solo tackles on the day, including one for a loss. The man has single-handedly transformed the Lions’ run defense efficiency, and it’s nice to finally see the fruits of his labor—even if the rest of the team is falling apart around him.
But Harrison didn’t spend post-game Sunday reveling in yet another individual game. In fact, he felt he was part of the problem against the Bears and said so on Twitter.
I’ve got to do better. 14 points I put directly on my shoulders. I can make those plays with my eyes closed. I let the team down. No excuses— Damon Harrison Sr. (@snacks) November 11, 2018
Harrison’s candor isn’t all that uncommon. After a loss, even the players that played well tend to tell the media that they weren’t good enough, and most NFL athletes are harder on themselves than anyone else could ever be.
However, this wasn’t some canned response to the media. Harrison, unprompted, felt the need to repent for his mistakes that, he believes, cost the team dearly. In a locker room that is getting increasingly combative with the media and seems intent on keeping issues quiet, Harrison’s open honesty is a breath of fresh air.
And he wasn’t done. A Lions fan reached out to Harrison to point out that he’s been a joy to watch in Detroit, but “Snacks” insisted he needs to be better and was even very specific about what he did wrong:
11:22 in the 1st quarter I should’ve made that play in the backside A gap on the 3 yd TD run. 8:14 2nd quarter QB draw on the 4 that was my play to make. I ran up the field instead of settling down and squeezing back. Terrible situational awareness by me. Those were both on me. https://t.co/T5j1HqD8ff— Damon Harrison Sr. (@snacks) November 11, 2018
I’m not the kind of fan that needs to hear players or coaches “take responsibility” for their poor play. Those fans almost seem to be asking for an apology, when it’s obvious these guys’ careers are on the line, and they have much more at stake than the fans. An apology won’t make them play better and taking responsibility only creates a perception that they’re working to get better. They need to put in the actual work. Talk is cheap.
But what I do appreciate from Harrison here is the amount of transparency he’s willing to give. He’s not only telling us he didn’t play up to his own standards, but he’s showing us. Too often, former players and coaches patronize fans for not knowing what they’re talking about because they’ve never played the game, instead of using the opportunity to teach. Here, Harrison offers information and makes the fanbase better by helping us understand what went wrong on those plays and what his responsibilities were.
It’s moments like these that make you appreciate a good player even more. Here’s hoping Harrison remains this impressive on the field and this honest off it.