***Warning this is a longer article than most. It is meant for all levels of IDP players and even those who have not played IDP before. No, IDP is not always this in-depth. But, it can be as detailed and as fun, as you want to make it. This is a by-product of things I have learned during the last four years of full IDP league bliss***
An overwhelming myth engraved in the hallowed halls of IDP University is that free safeties are not as IDP relevant as strong safeties. There are a lot of ways to decipher and regurgitate that old school thought to a new class of IDP hatchlings. Obviously, game plan and coaching philosophy are seemingly a couple of uncontrollable factors. Predicting an IDP breakout game is about as possible as maintaining a weekly top 3 scorer average.
Personnel is a significant factor too. In Philadelphia, for instance, SS Malcolm Jenkins often plays in the slot during sub-packages. He has serious coverage ability and film will support it by showing him run toe to toe with Antonio Brown. This situation is created because the Eagle FS (by name only) Rodney McLeod is trustworthy in-the-box and in single-high situations. McLeod was a free agent signee by Philadelphia during to 2016 off-season. His four years of experience with the Rams made him a well-respected commodity and the Eagles made him a priority signing.
Having two devastating veterans like Jenkins and McLeod helped out a ton considering the cornerback issues and inexperience Philadelphia had in 2016. The Eagles were also instituting a new system last year, and you can expect more in the way of familiarity with the returning Eagles’ defenders.
Recent studies have unearthed the fact that NFL defenses are in sub-package roughly 60% of the time. Now before you dismiss this entire article as null and void, you must remember that sub-package is simply a by-product of a team’s base defense. This means the players at a defensive coordinator’s disposal are usually structured around the need for his base package. For instance, 3-4 defensive ends are usually around 285 to 300 pounds, and 4-3 defensive ends are usually in the 245 to 270-pound range. Defensive backs alignments are not as easily explained, at least in the general size spectrum. You might also be surprised to know some safeties are around 200 pounds or under (Eagles FS McLeod is listed at 183).
Safeties must know how to tackle and where to attack bigger players. The Giants SS Landon Collins (who played FS as a rookie) is as textbook as a tackler that I have seen. His shoulder drive to the thigh of the ball carrier is not only fearless, but it is also very efficient. We are well aware of the number of fines handed out annually for “big” or “illegal” hits. We debate and question them as errors of judgment or heat of moment desperations. However, the facts are as simple as they are fundamental. Collins not only knows how to tackle, he knows how to tackle legally.
I asked several coaches from the NFL to the Division III level about the free safety position.
Below is a summary of their answers.
What is a free safety?
-The “Free Safety” position is not a position that’s set in stone for every defense. That is simply NOT true, while it is a common name. Depending on the coach, the defense will align strong/weak, field boundary, or left/right. Currently, where I am now, we are a 2 high defense, and we play field/boundary. Our “Rover” safety aligns to the field while our “Free” safety aligns to the boundary. The defense that I grew up playing played left and right, and our “Strong”” safety was on the left, and our “Free” safety was on the right. I was even part of a 3-4 at CSP that aligned the front 7 strong/weak, but the secondary aligned according to field/boundary.
You can call your safeties ANYTHING you want. “Orange Juice” and “Peanut Butter.” “Oni” and “Yokai,” “Spur” and “Bandit,” I’ve even called safeties, “Phantom,” and “Ghost,” before. So “Free Safety” is nothing but a name. The Bill Parcells coaching tree calls their safeties “Strong,” and “Weak.” Terminology is 100% subjective, make sense? In order for me to be of any assistance for your essay, you’re going to need to find something tangible to break down: a coverage, a playbook, a film clip, a player, something like that. I am happy to help you, so don’t feel bad about not knowing anything. Believe me; us coaches have been getting plenty of these questions in recent years. –Anders Faaren, Secondary Coach at Southwest Minnesota State University (Marshall, MN)
-Free Safety is the captain of the secondary & pass game for the entire defense. –Marvin Bohanon Jr Defensive Backs Coach Northeastern State University (Tehlequah, OK)
The Philadelphia Eagles run a 4-3 base but seems like Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod take turns depending on which has the ball is on playing FS and SS also Jenkins functions as nickel back or slot corner in sub package while McLeod is seemingly a rover.
-If they’re “switching” based on hash then they’re not necessarily switching their positions of F/S and S/S, it means that their defense is based on field/boundary concepts. Being in their sub-package probably doesn’t change their structure – but I don’t have Jim Schwartz’s playbook… If they always use Jenkins to take cover-down as a nickel DB, then they are probably looking at match-ups and feel more comfortable with him there – in one high concepts. Lots of teams play man coverages in sub packages based on athletic ability. But again, this is subjective. Lovie Smith’s Chicago Bears were a diehard Tampa 2 team – even in their sub packages, they would still sit in Tampa all day long. -Anders Faaren
What is their core functionality?
-A free safety is the player usually in the middle of the field who is the last line of defense for the defense.
-He must hold his ground and make game saving or touchdown saving tackles
How fast or slow can they run the 40-yard dash?
-For NFL and entering the NFL purposes 4.45 or faster.
Are makeup speed and instincts more important than short area quickness?
-Instincts are a major factor of playing Free Safety successfully.
How is playing FS in a 3-4 different from playing FS in a 4-3?
-No difference in 3-4 or 4-3. The main difference is the type of coverages the defense plays in being a 2 high or single high coverage. –Unnamed NFC East offensive coach
How does the FS role change in sub-package and how much of that depends on athletic strengths or skill set?
-This really depends on the coverage calls and the situation at hand.
*The unaccredited answers are summary or mixture of popular thoughts from coaches*
Anders was also nice enough to supply some Xs & Os graphics:
The above graph is a 4-3 scheme versus a popular NFL offensive set. Like in Philadelphia the strong safety (Jenkins) is covering the slot. This means the free safety (McLeod) can float and bob in back end while the play develops. Once the ball is past the line of scrimmage the FS has the angular advantage because his coverage responsibility is less.
Oakland Raider insiders believe Obi Melifonwu was drafted to be the Travis Kelce or a Tight End Assassin. This could mean that Melifonwu might see snaps at the WILL on third down. That would allow Khalil Mack to rush versus the outside shoulder of the right tackle. That would make Melifonwu a very valuable IDP asset even if he is not producing starter numbers this season. Off course that also means he could lose his S designation and become a LB much like Deone Bucannon. Melifonwu also has the range to play FS, and he should see some reps at deep safety on third and long.
As Coach Faaren stated, the FS is adjusting to the formation. I believe the FS would only do this if the SS is trustable in the back end. In situations like this Jenkins is preferred over a true in-the-box SS like Landon Collins. Collins has obvious coverage issues, but ironically it helps his overall IDP appeal. When in coverage if he gives up receptions he likely makes the tackle. Meanwhile, it is awesome that Philadelphia has two greats safeties and they are IDP starters. However, because they are interchangeable on any given coverage, they may limit each other’s overall IDP productivity.
In this type of zone coverage, the SS is responsible for a 1/4 of the field while the FS is responsible for 1/2 the field. At least one of the coaches I talked to believes that whichever safety spends a majority of his time in 1/4 coverage would have more tackle opportunities. It would seem that it might be almost detrimental to your tackle numbers to be too fast. If you are expected to cover more ground your coverage blanket responsibility would be more vast. This is also very true with teams that play single high safety looks.
The FS is left on an island and is expected to have sideline to sideline range, as well as keep the whole offense in front of him. Offenses may push the deep safety by sending a slot receiver on a vertical or seam route straight down the field. This clears out space underneath, and it means the faster defenders must cover more ground. Notorious vertical route runners like Torrey Smith, T.Y. Hilton, and Mike Wallace typically produce lower FS tackle numbers from game to game.
Basically in the 2016 games where Smith, Hilton, and Wallace saw five or more targets the opposing free safeties averaged roughly 1.5 tackles per game while all opposing strong safeties had five or more tackles. This could also be attributed to the lower success rate of vertical or deep patterns (as incomplete passes produce zero tackles). Either way, they might be situations to avoid when you are setting your lineups.
Charting FS vs. SS via Scheme and Coverages:
I charted all the safety tackles (SS vs. FS in the 4-3 and SS vs. FS 3-4) over the last four seasons. I was hoping to find that free safeties in the 4-3 often produced more tackle numbers than their counterparts in the 3-4. Unfortunately, it was not that black and white. Different hues emerged from both base packages. There was no clear cut answer or correlation. Some were obvious cases, like better players in general. Example: Oakland 2013 FS Charles Woodson 97 tackles vs. SS Brandian Ross 75 (I don’t know who he is either and I am a loud-n-proud member of Raider Nation). The ageless Woodson is a special case as he was given the freedom to freelance.
As we established before the FS generally makes the majority of the coverage calls. Woodson was 37 years old in 2013 (nearly the same age as his DC Jason Tarver). So you can imagine he was called the “FS” to make coverage calls, blanket adjustments and captain the secondary as he was at least nine years older than any other member of the secondary. He also likely made Ross play deep safety more often than any SS would.
Now I know your IDP leagues does not differentiate between FS and SS, but I still feel a number of unnamed IDP sharks often dismiss the FS position as inferior. Rational thinkers found the Jets decision to play their first round (2014) SS Calvin Pryor at FS when he was a rookie as abominable. It’s certainly did not help his IDP status for those that invested in him. However, if Pryor was lacking in coverage skills, I cannot (as a non-coach that is) dispute the fact that it was not better for him in the long run. Injuries and teams not having to throw to beat the Jets made a much bigger impact on his IDP production. The Jets also had Dawan Landry raging and excelling at SS. Pryor gets a new beginning, a new chapter if you will, to his career with the Browns. Cleveland is moving to a 4-3 base, and Pryor should hover around the line of scrimmage a lot more in 2017 and beyond.
Injuries and teams not having to throw to beat the Jets made a much bigger impact on his IDP production. The Jets also had Dawan Landry raging and excelling at SS. Pryor gets a new beginning, a new chapter if you will, to his career with the Browns. Cleveland is moving to a 4-3 base, and Pryor should hover around the line of scrimmage a lot more in 2017 and beyond.
While the Jets earned some well-deserved scrutiny for the Pryor situation the Giants essentially did the same thing with Landon Collins as a rookie in 2015. Collins played the “FS” role as a rookie and still recorded 108 tackles (like a boss). This was mostly due to veteran Brandon Meriweather (195 pounds) anchoring up in-the-box. Collins shifted to SS in 2016 and collected 125 tackles and four sacks! So it is not at all cut and dry from a positional standpoint.
The Giants were also an average team (17 wins, 16 losses), with many deficiencies at LB during Collins’s first two seasons. That likely mixed with some light-handed play at DE during his rookie season impacted his tackle numbers. Collins is basically and rightfully so IDP royalty at this point of his career. However, don’t think you can just pencil him in for 120+ tackles for the next decade. I hope I am wrong, but this IDP game is not that easy.
As an owner of Collins I am too much in love with him to move him. On the flip side I refuse to pay the massive price to acquire him. There are two conflicting schools of thought that come into this decision-making process. Firstly, I drafted Collins at 3.04 in a rookie draft. This was a controversial move since dynasty darling Tyler Lockett was still on the board. I like Lockett, and I believe his future is still bright. However, Collins was top five DB scorer in each of his first two seasons, including being the #1 DB overall in 2016.
Now yes I could likely move Collins for some much higher picks than I drafted him with, but those picks still have to pan out. So unless you are a flawless drafter why move him for that. If players are being offered for Collins than that is a little more subjective. I have been offered several trades for Collins involving players, and I have yet to pull the trigger on moving him. Secondly, my drafting of Collins in the third and him panning out increases the overall value of my team. While sometimes it smart to cash-in on that value, (considering he might not be this good three years from now), it is also worth looking how he enhances my team. How are other third round rookie picks from this class performing? Have any other third rookie picks on my squad increased their market value so dramatically? There may be more compelling arguments to move Collins, but I certainly have not come to accept them.
Do All Bad Teams Have Good IDP Free Safeties:
After much research, email exchanges with coaches and data entry I have come to realize some simple facts. A safety is a safety whether free or strong, boundary or weakside they will all make tackles. The FS in a single will likely struggle to keep up the tackle pace of his SS. Again this all depends on game flow and play calling. My brilliant co-host (@DFF_NickW) at the Edge Crushers podcast pointed out a very valuable truth bomb to me recently. He said “Run defenders on bad teams may be more valuable than pass defenders. Because if a team is routinely trailing in the second half of games, their pass defense will see less work.”
The 1-15 Cleveland Browns saw 87 tackles from there SS starters while their FS starters produced only 52. This could change with Browns making the switch to the 4-3. The will also have the ability to audible when sub-package to base and that would let either Pryor or Jabrill Peppers slide into a temporary LB role, which would be IDP goodness.
The 3-13 Chicago Bears got 95 tackles from SS starters, just 80 tackles from FS starters, although Chicago technically only lists players at S in the stat box. They also play them as such, which helped all of their tackle numbers.
The 2-14 San Francisco 49ers saw both safety starters go over the century mark in tackles. Believe it or not, the Niners were actually in most of their games. That is a shining example of game flow having a positive IDP effect. Side note: Jimmie Ward (all 193 pounds of him) will return to S this season after playing RCB last season. Consensus believes he will be a FS. I say it does not matter just pick up him now before he explodes!
The 3-13 Jacksonville Jaguars featured Jonathan Cyprien making 126 tackles and FS Tashaun Gipson making just 41! That is an incredibly wide margin especially considering both started all 16 games. Cyprien is often criticized which makes no sense, even if you look at just his tackle numbers. He is a true box safety, and the Jags just let him crunch. Common knowledge makes me think it would not be that hard for the Chargers Jahleel Addae to have a Cyprien-like season. With Gus Bradley now pushing the bottoms as the Chargers DC 16 healthy games from Addae should be fun.
One team that jumped off the page (like a Gramatica brother after a routine field goal) was the Arizona Cardinals. Their DC James Bettcher’s 3-4 uses a mix of seven DBs. That’s right a seven DB mix! This gave birth to the Deone Bucannon hybrid S/LB role. It also started a small IDP designation battle royale. In the end a S losing his designation to LB (like happened with Bucannon) is more often feared then it is a reality. However, despite what some experts say when there are seven DBs on the field, they cannot all be in the box, and they need a name designation. As for IDP production goes this is savage. There also conflicting reports of Budda Baker’s IDP relevance as a rookie. I am not betting against him and that is my final statement on the matter.
Free Safeties to Avoid:
Malik Hooker – Indianapolis Colts
-I do not hate Hooker; rather I believe he will be largely inconsistent. He should see a snap majority but his week-to-week value will be highly dependent on splash plays and turnovers. The Colts play a ton of man coverage which means Hooker will be covering the entire back end by himself. He will be expected to stop long touchdowns, and deep passing plays. Conversely, this means Clayton Geathers who is assuming the SS role this will be right in the thick of the action and he is primed to breakout, assuming he can get back past a neck injury that required surgery. When Geathers is healthy he will be an IDP mainstay for patient ones who are holding him.
Lamarcus Joyner – L.A. Rams
-The new Rams DC (Wade Phillips) has moved Joyner from nickel/utility DB to starting FS for 2017. While it is a promotion for Joyner the Phillips 3-4 employs a lot man converge and this caused 20 tackle difference between FS and SS during Phillips’s time in Denver. Joyner will not be useless but he will need to supply the back end of coverage shell. Also the addition nickel back Nickell Robey-Coleman will mean Joyner will be a permanent fixture deep in the pass defense.
Darian Stewart – Denver Broncos
-The Broncos have two very capable safeties in Will Parks and Justin Simmons in the pipeline behind the Stewart. They will play a lot of man because their corners Chris Harris and Aqib Talib are sensational. They are also stacked at ILB with Todd Davis, Brandon Marshall, and Corey Nelson all competing for reps and tackles. The Denver pass rush is also very good with Von Miller who nearly doubled his tackles numbers from 2015 to 2016.
Potentially the Best Tackle Scenario:
-The Carolina Panthers led the league zone coverage usage in 2016. The results were 382 tackles from their listed secondary players including 146 tackles from their two starting rookie cornerbacks. They also mix and matched by having both Michael Griffin and Kurt Coleman play free safety and strong safety. Meanwhile, Tre Boston functioned as their true free or deep safety. Coleman played the most snaps 995, while Boston saw 840. Griffin only played 285 but he was far more efficient/effective with a tackle percentage of 13%. Boston did have 52 tackles but his tackle percentage was 6%. That means Griffin was making a tackle every eight snaps while Boston was a tackle every 16 snaps. That is I believe the main difference in playing a deep safety as opposed to playing a boundary safety.
All Safety Tackles
(SS vs. FS in the 3-4 and SS vs. FS 4-3)
over the last four seasons.
3-4 Scheme SS – Tackles FS – Tackles
Cleveland 2013 TJ Ward 112 Tashaun Gipson 94
Cleveland 2014 Donte Whitner 105 Gipson/Jim Leonhard 95
Cleveland 2015 Whitner 81 Gipson 60 Jordan Poyer FS/SS 37
Cleveland 2016 Derrick Kindred/Ibraheim Campbell 87 Poyer/Tracy Howard 52 Ed Reynolds FS/SS 40
Baltimore 2013 James Ihedigbo 101 Matt Elam 77
Baltimore 2014 Elam/Jeromy Miles 86 Darian Stewart/Anthony Levine 89 Will Hill FS/SS 47
Baltimore 2015 Will Hill 64 Lardarius Webb/Brynden Trawick 62 Kendrick Lewis FS/SS 60
Baltimore 2016 Eric Weddle 89 Webb 73
Pittsburgh 2013 Troy Polamalu 69 Ryan Clark 104 Will Allen FS/SS 34
Pittsburgh 2014 Polamalu/W. Allen 105 Mike Mitchell 76
Pittsburgh 2015 W. Allen/Robert Golden 115 Mike Mitchell 80
Pittsburgh 2016 Golden/Jordan Dangerfield 42 Mike Mitchell 77 Sean Davis FS/SS 69
New Orleans 2013 Kenny Vaccaro 79 Malcolm Jenkins 76 Roman Harper/Rafael Bush FS/SS 81
New Orleans 2014 Vaccaro 75 Bush 55 Three players FS/SS 66
Houston 2013 Three players 115 Shiloh Keo/Ed Reed 79
Houston 2014 DJ Swearinger/Danieal Manning 120 Kendrick Lewis 84
Houston 2015 Quintin Demps/Eddie Pleasant 89 Kevin Johnson/Rahim Moore 68 Andre Hal SS/FS 34
Houston 2016 Demps/Pleasant 72 Hal 46 Corey Moore FS/SS 23
Indianapolis 2013 Antoine Bethea 110 LaRon Landry/Delano Howell 106
Indianapolis 2014 Mike Adams 106 Landry/Sergio Brown 97
Indianapolis 2015 Adams/Clayton Geathers 103 Dwight Lowery 76
Indianapolis 2016 Adams 79 Geathers 58 TJ Green FS/SS 43
Tennessee 2014 George Wilson/Bernard Pollard 100 Michael Griffin 112
Tennessee 2015 Da’Norris Searcy 55 Griffin 99 Damion Stafford FS/SS 19
Tennessee 2016 Searcy 39 Kevin Byard/Rashad Johnson 89 Stafford FS/SS 51
Green Bay 2013 Three players 136 M.D. Jennings 77
Green Bay 2014 Morgan Burnett 143 Ha Ha Clinton-Dix 105
Green Bay 2015 Burnett/Micah Hyde 123 Clinton-Dix 100
Green Bay 2016 Burnett/Kentrell Brice 111 Clinton-Dix 79
Chicago 2015 Three players 79 Adrian Amos 67
Chicago 2016 Harold Jones-Quartey/Deon Bush 95 Amos/Chris Pronsinki 80
Denver 2015 TJ Ward/David Bruton 103 Darian Stewart/John Bush 72
Denver 2016 Ward 87 Stewart 68 Justin Simmons FS/SS 24
Kansas City 2013 Eric Berry 82 Kendrick Lewis 61 Quintin Demps/Husain Abdullah FS/SS 69
Kansas City 2014 Ron Parker 94 Abdullah 71 Berry SS/FS 37
Kansas City 2015 Parker 78 Berry 61
Kansas City 2016 Berry 77 Parker 61 Daniel Sorenson S 54
San Diego 2013 Marcus Gilchrist 77 Eric Weddle 115 Jahleel Addae FS/SS 51
San Diego 2014 Gilchrist 76 Weddle 114 Addae 48
San Diego 2015 Addae 64 Weddle 75 Jimmy Wilson/Adrian Phillips FS/SS 57
San Diego 2016 Addae/Phillips 83 Dwight Lowery 60
Arizona 2013 Yeremiah Bell 77 Rashad Johnson/Tyrann Mathieu 126 Tony Jefferson SS/FS 23
Arizona 2014 Deone Bucannon 86 Johnson 101 Jefferson/Mathieu 123
Arizona 2015 Johnson 56 Mathieu 89 Jefferson 74
Arizona 2016 Jefferson 92 Mathieu 35 DJ Swearinger FS/SS 64
San Francisco 2013 Donte Whitner 73 Eric Reid 91
San Francisco 2014 Antoine Bethea 85 Reid/Craig Dahl 65
San Francisco 2015 Jaquiski Tartt/Bethea 108 Reid 66 Jimmie Ward S 54
San Francisco 2016 Bethea 110 Reid/Tartt 111
Washington 2013 Reed Doughty 80 Bacarri Rambo/EJ Biggers 77 Brandon Meriweather FS/SS 69
Washington 2014 Meriweather/Phillip Thomas 82 Ryan Clark 101 Trent Robinson FS/SS 29
Washington 2015 Robinson 52 Dashon Goldson 108 Kyshoen Jarrett FS/SS 57
Washington 2016 Donte Whitner/David Bruton 93 Three players 115 Su’a Cravens ILB/S 33
NY Jets 2013 Dawan Landry 100 Three players 107
NY Jets 2014 Landry 106 Calvin Pryor 61 Jaiquawn Jarrett FS/SS 41
NY Jets 2015 Pryor 69 Marcus Gilchrist 82 Three players FS/SS 53
NY Jets 2016 Pryor 60 Gilchrist 53 Rontez Miles FS/SS 49
Buffalo 2013 Aaron Williams 82 Jarius Byrd/Da’Norris Searcy 119
Buffalo 2015 Corey Graham 122 Bacarri Rambo/Duke Williams 81 A. Williams SS/FS 15
Buffalo 2016 Graham 83 Three players 61
4-3 Scheme SS – Tackles FS – Tackles
Oakland 2013 Brandian Ross 75 Charles Woodson 97
Oakland 2014 Four Players 132 Woodson 111
Oakland 2015 Three players 100 Woodson 74
Oakland 2016 Three players 102 Reggie Nelson 65
Atlanta 2013 William Moore 85 Thomas Decoud 65
Atlanta 2014 Kemal Ishmael 96 Dwight Lowery 79 William Moore S 25
Atlanta 2015 Moore/Ishmael 93 Ricardo Allen 68
Atlanta 2016 Keanu Neal 105 Allen 90
Chicago 2013 Major Wright 101 Chris Conte 90
Chicago 2014 Ryan Mundy 103 Conte/Brock Vereen 82
Buffalo 2014 Aaron Williams 75 Da’Norris Searcy 65
Detroit 2013 Glover Quin 57 Louis Delmas 64
Detroit 2014 Quin 74 James Ihedigbo 80
Detroit 2015 Two players 127 Quin 67
Detroit 2016 Tavon Wilson 87 Quin 68 Miles Killebrew S 20
Denver 2013 Duke Ihenacho/David Bruton 113 Mike Adams/Rahim Moore 108
Denver 2014 TJ Ward 86 Moore/Bruton 89
Philadelphia 2016 Malcolm Jenkins 69 Rodney McLeod 80
Tampa Bay 2013 Mark Barron 88 Dashon Goldson 72 Keith Tandy FS/SS 40
Tampa Bay 2014 Bradley McDougald/Barron 99 Goldson 81 Major Wright FS/SS 51
Tampa Bay 2015 Chris Conte/Tandy 116 McDougald 87 Wright FS/SS 25
Tampa Bay 2016 Conte/Tandy 116 McDougald 91
New Orleans 2015 Kenny Vaccaro 104 Jarius Byrd 53
New Orleans 2016 Vaccaro 67 Byrd 82 Vonn Bell FS/SS 83
St. Louis 2013 McDonald/Stewart 88 McLeod 79
St. Louis 2014 TJ McDonald 105 McLeod 72
St. Louis 2015 McDonald/Alexander 96 McLeod 81
LA Rams 2016 McDonald 62 Alexander 50
Seattle 2013 Kam Chancellor 134 Earl Thomas 105
Seattle 2014 Chancellor 104 Thomas 122
Seattle 2015 Chancellor/McCray 97 Thomas 61
Seattle 2016 Chancellor/McCray 116 Thomas/Terrell 69
Jacksonville 2013 Jonathan Cyprien 102 Evans/Winston Guy 87
Jacksonville 2014 Cyprien 114 Josh Evans 90
Jacksonville 2015 Cyprien 107 Evans/Sergio Brown 88
Jacksonville 2016 Cyprien 126 Tashuan Gipson 41
Tennessee 2013 Bernard Pollard 99 Michael Griffin 82
Miami 2013 Chris Clemons 93 Reshad Jones 107
Miami 2014 Jones 80 Louis Delmas 60
Miami 2015 Michael Thomas/Walt Aikens 91 Jones 135
Miami 2016 Isa Abdul-Quddus 76 Jones/Thomas 90 Bacarri Rambo FS/SS 39
New England 2013 Steve Gregory/Duron Harmon 110 Devin McCourty 79
New England 2014 Patrick Chung 95 McCourty 78
New England 2015 Chung 85 McCourty 64
New England 2016 Chung 87 McCourty 78
N.Y. Giants 2013 Antrel Rolle 98 Will Hill 77 Ryan Mundy FS/SS 77
N.Y. Giants 2014 Rolle 87 Quintin Demps/Stevie Brown 95
N.Y. Giants 2015 Brandon Meriweather/Craig Dahl 103 Landon Collins 108
N.Y. Giants 2016 Collins 125 Three players 69
Dallas 2013 Jeff Heath/J.J. Wilcox 98 Barry Church 135
Dallas 2014 Church 109 Wilcox 81
Dallas 2015 Church 113 Wilcox 48 Byron Jones FS/CB 65
Dallas 2016 Church 85 Jones 81 Wilcox FS/SS 55
Cincinnati 2013 George Iloka 68 Reggie Nelson 65
Cincinnati 2014 Iloka 79 Nelson 99
Cincinnati 2015 Iloka/Shawn Williams 75 Nelson 72
Cincinnati 2016 Williams 81 Iloka 73
Minnesota 2013 Andrew Sendejo FS/SS 84 Harrison Smith 58 Jamarca Sandford FS/SS 75
Minnesota 2014 Robert Blanton 105 Harrison Smith 92
Minnesota 2015 Three players 115 Smith/Antone Exum 76
Minnesota 2016 Sendejo 66 Smith 91 Anthony Harris FS/SS 35
Carolina 2013 Quintin Mikell/Robert Lester 80 Mike Mitchell/Charles Godfrey 82
Carolina 2014 Roman Harper 67 Thomas Decoud/Tre Boston 81
Carolina 2015 Harper 73 Kurt Coleman/Boston 109
Carolina 2016 Michael Griffin SS/FS 35 Coleman FS/SS 95 Boston FS 52
This study sent me on a confounding journey. I hope I found a digestible happy medium between terminology and fundamental basics. The point was to prove that free safeties can be just as valuable as strong safeties in the IDP realm. I believe that not so subtly I proved that is a certainty. Thanks for reading!
I want to say “Thank you” to the following people for their help and inspiration in the execution of this article:
Nick Wagner, Anders Faaren, Bill Latin, Dr. Sean Kirby, “Handsome” Brad Ylitalo, Marvin Bohannon, Bobby Slowik, Michael Goins, John Orr, (Brad McDaniel, Shane Manila, one these unlucky fellas had to edit this 4,000+ word run-on sentence) unnamed NFC East offensive coach, Sam Monson, FantasyData.com, InsideThePylon.com, Pro Football Focus, Pro Football Reference, Football for Dummies and my wife for the drama I caused by trying to figure out if this was an expose, manifesto or thesis…!