The Detroit Lions came much closer to winning in Week 10 than in previous weeks, and a big reason for that was the team’s defense.
Against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Lions allowed 387 total yards on the afternoon, which included just 145 on the ground and 242 through the air. The Lions held the Steelers to just seven conversions on third down, and also managed to keep the team to just 16 points while forcing 2 fumbles and 1 interception.
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As good as a day as it was, though, there was one thing missing on the stat ledger for the Lions, and that was a sack. For two weeks in a row dating back to Week 8, the Lions have not generated a sack. It’s safe to say that could be the one element holding the team back at this point.
That’s something sack-master defensive lineman Charles Harris seems to understand all too well. Harris has been arguably the team’s best pass rusher with 4 sacks to his credit, and he wants to see his team pick it up. Speaking to the media after practice on November 17 in an interview posted to DetroitLions.com, Harris explained why pressure in the backfield is so vital in his mind.
“I think the quarterback usually is a major factor in any game. That’s something we definitely are harping on, that’s something we are trying to improve and even just now, out staying after practice, staying a few more minutes, working little details in terms of the pass rush, make sure we have pass rush lanes, pass rush coverage all goes hand in hand,” he said to the media.
In terms of what he wants to see this week, Harris left no doubts.
“As a defense, we definitely need more production there and it’s something that we’re looking to correct for sure,” Harris said.
Coming into this weekend, the Lions will be taking on Baker Mayfield, as dinged up as he is. That doesn’t change what Harris feels about the quarterback in the least bit, even as he believes the team is in good position to compete against Mayfield.
“He’s a dynamic player, he makes plays all the time, he makes plays with his legs, obviously a dual-threat. He’s obviously got the run game behind him as well. A triple threat offense,” Harris said. “Baker Mayfield is a great player, but I think we have a solid plan to overcome some things he might throw at us.”
Getting after Mayfield would be counted as important any week, but perhaps even more so this week. Soon, Harris and Detroit’s plan will be put to the test.
Harris Made History Himself With Sacks This Year
If it’s one guy who would understand the significance of pocket pressure, it’s Harris. Signed in the offseason, Harris came to Detroit low on name recognition, but he’s been a quality addition to a Detroit defense that has been improved overall at rushing the passer this season. Harris himself has started to show up and has made some waves early on.
After Harris recorded his 4th sack in a row during Detroit’s 19-17 loss to the Minnesota Vikings in Week 5, it was revealed by Lions PR on Twitter he had made some impressive franchise history. Harris tied for the longest sack streak in Lions history, and has the longest sack streak of a free agent in team history as well. Harris is also tied for the longest sack streak in the league right now.
All of these facts are impressive for the Lions, who have needed a consistent effort in the trenches from someone. The fact Harris seems to fit within the team’s defense could prove huge for the future. The Lions could like what they see and bring him back this coming offseason to remain a part of the team. In 2021, Harris was signed to a one-year, $1.7 million dollar deal. Now more than halfway through this season, it’s clear he’s earned that in a big way.
It will be interesting to see if Harris can keep producing and motivating his own teammates.
Harris’s Career Stats and Highlights
it’s clear that Harris had talent to fall back on that always seemed like it could help him cement a bigger role in Detroit. He was a former first-round pick out of Missouri back in 2017, and while he might not have lived up to the grade with the Dolphins, it’s clear he does offer some upside in the trenches. Harris has 6.5 career sacks, but 3 of those came when he was playing with the Falcons during the 2020 season. Harris also has 79 tackles, 4 passes defended and 1 fumble recovery in his career before joining the Lions.
Harris has yet to show signs of being a consistently elite pass rusher in the NFL, but he could offer the Lions some help off the edge given the major need Detroit has at the spot. The Lions re-made their defense this past offseason, and in previous years the team did not show an ability to get after the quarterback. That has disappeared thus far in 2021, given the team already has 9 sacks to their credit through the first four games. Having Harris come on at this point would be considered a win given he is leading the team currently with his 4 sacks.
Watching some of the career highlights, Harris is still a very talented player:
Harris has led the way for the Lions in terms of play, and now he is setting the standards high for his defense as well.