In Rex Ryan's vaunted defense, the Nose Guard position becomes the focal point of the entire defense. The Jets' schemes have always been predicated off the team's ability to stop the run. Ryan has made it known that it is incredibly difficult to set the tone on the ground when you play his Jets.
However, heading into the 2013 season, the Jets were at the bottom barrel in terms of stopping the run. Sione Po'uha's back problems forced him out of the league, and there was a glaring hole right in the heart of the Jets' defensive line.
In comes Damon Harrison, better known as "Big Snacks," an undrafted second year player out of the unheralded William Penn college. Coming into training camp, Harrison was a long shot to even make the roster. Harrison was a community college dropout, that was more ready to bag groceries rather than sack quarterbacks.
The opinions around Harrison didn't get in the way with his pathway to success. Harrison became a favorite of Ryan, and ultimately stole the starting job. And once he took the job, it was highway robbery. Snacks became the centerpiece to a New York Jets defense that ranked No. 2 in stopping the run. At a 3.4 yards per carry average, Harrison quickly emerged into the straw that stirs the drink on a defense that no offense looked forward to facing.
On a defensive line with three former first round picks surrounding him, the Nose Guard out of Northwest Mississippi Community College can't be overlooked, especially with his 350 pound frame.
As the only non-first round pick on a dangerous defensive line, most NFL Scout and front office personnel already overlooked him. However, in doing so, they're only adding an extra chip to a very strong minded player. Lack of respect for Snacks only adds fuel to his own fire.
"I feel like I'm still not being respected," Harrison said. "No matter how much success I have in this league, I will always have something to prove. People say, 'Am I hungry?' I still have something to prove. I will never be satisfied with anything I did last year or the year before."
Judging by Harrison's track record, the more people underestimating him, the better. Partnering up with the likes of Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson has transformed the Jets' defensive line into a brick wall, and the unit looks to become the symbol of New York Jets football success as well as each of them honing a spot in the pro-bowl this upcoming season.
Ryan has taken the defensive line under his wings, and the team has now reaped the benefits. The physical specimens of the Jets' defensive line mixed in with the mastermind in Ryan behind the scenes has created a scary sight for any quarterback to contend with this upcoming season.