Damien Harris Has Excelled For Patriots Despite High Level Of Difficulty

Opposing defenses are loading the box against Harris

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Running back Damien Harris has been a tremendous third-round find for the Patriots and a bright spot in an otherwise frustrating season in New England.

Harris ranks fifth among qualified NFL running backs with 5.1 yards per carry, and he’s PFF’s top-graded running back this season.

ESPN’s Mike Tannenbaum, a former front-office executive for the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins, pointed out on Twitter that Harris has faced the highest percentage of carries with eight or more defenders in the box.

That stat underscores the Patriots’ predictability when Harris is on the field. The Patriots have run the ball on 69% of Harris’ offensive snaps.

Harris’ efficiency despite the high level of difficultly he faces is probably one of the reasons why Harris ranks so high in PFF’s grades. He’s also 10th among 30 qualified running backs in yards after contact per attempt, per PFF. He’s 12th among 48 qualified running backs in Pro Football Reference’s attempts per broken tackle metric. Football Outsiders ranks Harris 11th of 31 qualified running backs in DVOA.

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