Sunday, February 15, 2009

Harris in the Shack?

Wrapping up a couple of pieces on the coaching staff, I thought I'd highlight all the information I found on Shack Harris, the Lions' new Personnel man.

Here is an undocumented excerpt I found, with a little poster-editing, but gives some good information:

..."A veteran with over 30 years experience in the NFL, Harris played quarterback for 12 seasons before embarking on what is now his 20th year in personnel. His personnel career began in 1987, as a scout for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1987-92). From 1993-96, Harris served as assistant general manager of the New York Jets. Named director of pro personnel for the Baltimore Ravens in 1997, he spent six years with the Ravens where he earned a Super Bowl ring with the Ravens’ victory in Super Bowl XXXV in 2000.
That was one heck of a team Shack put together. Those Ravens absolutely destroyed everyone defensively. Now I grant you their offense wasn't great from a passing perspective... It was adequate though, and their running attack with Jamaal Lewis was devastating. Harris has a very high opinion of JDR's evaluation ability and says as much in an interview.
Q: How's your relationship with Del Rio?It's great. Jack and I go way back to Baltimore. It's good because Jack is a good evaluator. So many head coaches are not evaluators. Jack will watch tape. So many head coaches might watch just a few plays, but Jack will do the detailed tape watching that allows you to make a decision. Jack is a good football guy. He played the game and understands things from a player's perspective and a coach's perspective. So we get along well. We feel that we have an excellent staff.

That relationship has produced quite a bit of fruit and is the core reason for the Jaguars' success. Let's look at some of his picks.Leftwich - Bust [not sure I agree there - solid, but unspectacular qb ala DanO] Matt Jones- Bust [If he stays out of trouble, finally started looking like a real WR last season] Marcedes Lewis - Lookin' Good Reggie Nelson - Lookin’ Good Rashean Mathis - STAR Daryl Smith - STAR-lite M. Jones Drew - STAR Those are only the first two rounds. Players like Clint Ingram (3rd) or Sensabaugh (5th) came in later rounds. Let's not forget about all the un-drafted free agents the Jags sign and end up contributing. Players like that keep your special teams strong, your bottom line down, and your salary cap with plenty of room" - nost3

Mlive had a bit of information on him, and here is his Bio. Interesting that he was named director of pro personnel for the Baltimore Ravens in 1997, he spent six years with the Ravens where he earned a Super Bowl ring with the Ravens’ victory in Super Bowl XXXV in 2000 and that he was Phil Savage's Supervisor.

Nost found an excerpt from another Harris article, but couldn't find sourcing. (If anyone finds sourcing for either article, please post it in comments. I like to ID sources of thoughts not my own whenever possible.)

James Harris is noted for his "Best Player Available" draft philosophy, in which he ignores the team's current roster and simply picks the college player he feels is the best athlete. This is in contrast to Coughlin's draft philosophy, which was based on assessing needs in the current pro roster. James Harris put this philosophy to work immediately upon being hired, drafting quarterback Byron Leftwich even though Mark Brunell, who at the time was in the top ten for best QB rating in league history, was still on the roster. Harris's 2003 and 2004 draft classes are already highly regarded.
The 2004 season, celebrated as the 10th season of the Jaguars' existence, resulted in a winning record of 9-7 with road victories against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field as well as the Indianapolis Colts at the RCA Dome. The Jaguars' defense was a strong suit, as it included the 2 of the team's Pro Bowl players, defensive tackles Marcus Stroud and John Henderson. Byron Leftwich also enjoyed a solid year in 2004, helped by strong performances from holdovers Fred Taylor and Jimmy Smith. Unfortunately, Taylor sustained a season-ending injury at the Packers game. The very next week saw the Jaguars fall to the Houston Texans, which would ultimately eliminate the Jaguars from the playoffs. This denied them an opportunity to play the Super Bowl at their home stadium (the Super Bowl in February 2005 being the first the Jaguars, and Jacksonville, hosted).
The 2005 Jaguars' hoped to challenge the Colts for the division title. However, due to their 13-0 start, including two victories against the Jaguars, the Colts were able to easily clinch the AFC South title. With a 12-4 record (second best finish in team history), the Jaguars easily qualified for one of the conference's two wild card playoff allocations. Among these 12 wins were a 23-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on October 9, 2005 and a 23-17 overtime victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on October 16, 2005. While the Jaguars managed to win key games in 2005, 9 of their final 10 games were played against opponents with losing records. Though these games were wins, key players Byron Leftwich, Mike Peterson, Paul Spicer, and Rashean Mathis were hurt during this stretch. The Jaguars ended the season losing 28-3 to the two-time defending champion New England Patriots on January 7, 2006 in the 2005 season's AFC wild card playoff round.

This article is a long Q&A with Harris when he was with Jax last December. It is very revealing, to me -- and it also shows he is comfortable in an advisory role, and taking a team based appraaoch to building a team. A must read in order to know more about how the Lions will be approaching FA and the Draft.

This last article on Harris doesn't garner any real new info - but it is Jamie Samuelson, what do you expect? - just a lukewarm recap of what Mayhew and Lewand have done this ifseason.

Finally, lets jump back to the head coaching spot, where the Boston Globe had this great in-depth article on Jim Schwartz.

I had fun spoiling Mrs. DetFan1979 yesterday for Valentines Day. Hope everyone else was able to at least have a little time with family/significant others.


JJLions20 said...

I heard Harris contemplated taking the year off because he wanted a GM position. If so the Detroit job is a good spot for him to land until a GM job opens next year. If he is successful, and he has what looks to be a good draft, he'll be gone by next year at this time, maybe two years from now. The worse thing you can do if your looking for a front office or coaching job is to take a year off. The feeling is you digress, not move forward. That's why so many guy's go into TV, they stay connected.

If you want to make a big splash as a personnel evaluator, where best to go than a team with two first rounder’s, and 5 in the first 3 rounds. Also take into consideration that the Lions have the first pick in the third round which is the 2nd day. This is a key pick because the personnel department gets a full night to look at everybody left and make that first pick.

Hopefully it works out for Harris and the Lions.

Ty said...


THANK YOU for the links, man! The Harris interview was tremendous, and really enlightening. I think he'll be a real asset, even if it's just to guide the Lions' staff through this first critical offseason.