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Great Defenses Have A Great Fs


neko
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This is a repost from a tatf thread. I thought it could use its own thread over here.

We need a very good FS in a very bad way. IMhO the FO should draft whoever they feel can be the best **** FS from this class outside of the top 20-25 picks. It is obviously the biggest hole right now and there are currently no quality FA options to help. Certainly TD&Co have their eyes on guys around the league who could be dropped or maybe even traded for. But the importance of this position, as has been debated, should not be underestimated.

I was a fan of Ward before researching Bucannon further. Bucannon had me quite intrigued from an 'explosive' standpoint (among others). Then I found this:

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Orlando Ledbetter, Atlanta Journal-Constituion:

... the Falcons came away from their week of Senior Bowl practice impressed with three safeties ... The Falcons had the opportunity to work with Washington State’s Deone Bucannon and Baylor’s Ahmad Dixon (and Vanderbilt's Stephenson High). After chatting with Bucannon, you can see why the Falcons are impressed with the bright young man. “I think my best skill is my knack for making plays,” Bucannon said. “My football I.Q. is high and those are things that safeties need. I also feel that my instincts are also there as well. I feel like coaches only need to tell me something one time for me to understand it and process it. That helps me learn the defenses.”

Ledbetter also noted that Falcons coaches lamented game rules prohibiting blitzes because they wanted to see Bucannon bring the lumber.

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If the Falcons believe Bucannon can be a great NFL FS after seeing him firsthand then we should pay attention. Imagine the possibilities of a FS who is also a bad*** SS. The measurables are there to offer elite potential. High production = check. High FB IQ = check. Loves to hit = check. Versatility = check. Whats not to like? Can he cover? I trust our coaches have a pretty good idea if he can or not from the Senior Bowl.

Whether it is Bucannon, Ward, Reynolds or someone else, we need to find our future FS now because it is a very important position and we are bare.

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There have been some discussions about 'how important' this position is. I did a little research inspired by a recent poster (please stand up) who listed past Super Bowl winning FSs who were chock-full of talent and supported the stud FS theory. I looked into the FSs of the NFL's most dominant Ds.

I used this for my list:

http://espn.go.com/p...NFLdefense.html

All these guys were great players. Please wiki to see for yourself. Too many little details to post.

1976 Steelers - Glen Edwards

1985 Bears - Gary Fencik

2000 Ravens - Rod Woodson

1972 Vikings - Paul Krause

1973 Dolphins - **** Anderson

1975 Rams - Bill Simpson

*1960s teams omitted since they designated them L/R instead of SS/FS.

Exception: 1990 Giants - Myron Guyton

"On April 16, 2012, Guyton was among four former NFL players filing a lawsuit claiming the league didn't properly protect players from concussions."

Decoud's idol possibly?

BOTTOM LINE: Great defenses have a great FS. I would like to see us get the best one this draft has to offer (for our scheme) starting in the 2nd rd (tho I wouldnt be opposed to a trade up into the late 1st to "get their guy").

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If you're looking at the most dominant D's, I'm willing to bet they had great run stuffers and pass rushers too. Who's to say those safeties weren't partially products of the rest of the defense?

This is true, they did. Although if they were mere products of a great D I do not believe they would garner so much attention in the way of Pro Bowl bids or Team MVP awards.

edit: Bill Simpson may fall into the "product of the defense" category.

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I agree with the OP. I think FS is priority need for ATL...but really was Glen Edwards, **** Anderson & Bill Simpson great players???? When I think of great defense I think of Pittsburg's Steel Curtain, Minnesota's Purple People Eaters, Dallas's Flex defense, Chicago's 46 defense, Miami's No Name and Atlanta's Grit Blitz. Sorry when I think of a dominate defenses I think of dominate D-Line and caggy D-Coords. Some of the FS mentioned on the defenses were not even the best dbs on the team. I grew up watching the teams in the 70s, I remember Pittsburg's Donnie Shell & Mel Blount but not Glen Edwards. I think Mike Wagner was more of a force at FS than Glen Edwards. From 1972 Miami team, I easily remember Jake Scott but Anderson I do not recall as easily.

I like Ward, Buchannon, Pryor and Reynolds as potential targets in this draft in rounds 2-4.

Edited by AEFalcon
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I used this for my list:

http://espn.go.com/p...NFLdefense.html

All these guys were great players. Please wiki to see for yourself. Too many little details to post.

1976 Steelers - Glen Edwards

1985 Bears - Gary Fencik

2000 Ravens - Rod Woodson

1972 Vikings - Paul Krause

1973 Dolphins - **** Anderson

1975 Rams - Bill Simpson

*1960s teams omitted since they designated them L/R instead of SS/FS.

Exception: 1990 Giants - Myron Guyton

"On April 16, 2012, Guyton was among four former NFL players filing a lawsuit claiming the league didn't properly protect players from concussions."

Decoud's idol possibly?

BOTTOM LINE: Great defenses have a great FS. I would like to see us get the best one this draft has to offer (for our scheme) starting in the 2nd rd (tho I wouldnt be opposed to a trade up into the late 1st to "get their guy").

It pisses me off that the 1977 Falcons aren't on that list. They should be in the top 3.

FWIW, Our FS that year, Ray Easterling, had 4 INTs, 2 Fumble recoveries, no TDs.

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That's great and all, we just don't have the pick, the money, and the depth of talent is not available in FA or the Draft this year. None of these college S are the next Ed Reed or Polamalu. Don't make a mistake and reach for someone. Let the Saint have Byrd. I hope they are happy with their two 4.6 players in the back end that don't have range to really make up for mistakes by CBs. Sure, if a bad throw happens in front of Byrd, he may pick it. Vaccaro may knock your blog off. However, if the like of Julio Jones or any number of 4.5 or faster WR's gets behind these guys, Forget about it.

I'm a big fan of Brock Vereen from Minnesota. Nice size and athletic, 4th round or lower type. Not a real ball hawk or lights out tackler/hitter, but with the new rules, the big hitters at S are a walking 15 yard penalty.

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I agree with the OP. I think FS is priority need for ATL...but really was Glen Edwards, **** Anderson & Bill Simpson great players???? When I think of great defense I think of Pittsburg's Steel Curtain, Minnesota's Purple People Eaters, Dallas's Flex defense, Chicago's 46 defense, Miami's No Name and Atlanta's Grit Blitz. Sorry when I think of a dominate defenses I think of dominate D-Line and caggy D-Coords. Some of the FS mentioned on the defenses were not even the best dbs on the team. I grew up watching the teams in the 70s, I remember Pittsburg's Donnie Shell & Mel Blount but not Glen Edwards. I think Mike Wagner was more of a force at FS than Glen Edwards. From 1972 Miami team, I easily remember Jake Scott but Anderson I do not recall as easily.

I like Ward, Buchannon, Pryor and Reynolds as potential targets in this draft in rounds 2-4.

I was a bit surprised myself with what I found out about some of the FSs from those Ds.

Here you go:

Glen Edwards - in 1974 won the award as Most Valuable Steeler. Edwards won two championship rings (Super Bowl IX and Super Bowl X) and made two Pro Bowl appearances after the 1975 and 1976 season. Edwards is also known for two key plays in his Super Bowl appearances.

**** Anderson - was a three-time Pro Bowler in 1972, 1973 in which he was NFL Defensive Player of the Year and in 1974 in which he was one of the leaders of the Dolphins well known No Name Defense.

Bill Simpson - 1977 - Sporting News: 1st team all-conf. 1978 - Pro Football Weekly: 1st team all-conf.

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I watched and followed many of those teams growing up. None were players I remembered vividly. I would argue a great FS is more valuable on poor defenses as they are key to cover up for other players lapses . Where as FS on great defenses benefit from strong run defense (can focus on pass), strong CB play (can roam freely, read QB and make play on the ball) and most importantly strong pass rush (QB has to get rid of the ball quickly or on the move) therefore their stats my be higher than their presence. I know the heart and soul of Pitts defense was front 4 not the dbs

Regarding awards, fewer teams, even fewer dominate teams so man of the same players on the dominant teams won post season awards.

It comes across as these defense needed these FS to be great for when in fact all the needed was for them to be above average. Regardless, I think the key to all the great defenses you mentioned in the 70s/early80s were strong defensive linemen. In the 80', active versatile LBs and pass rushing specialist made key impacts.

Sorry neko, I respect your opinion and I agree Falcons need a FS but just do not agree with your assessment of these guys greatness. I do agree that FS is a position that needs upgrading maybe the most before Atl defense can be great. It maybe the 2nd or 3rd biggest need along with RT and edge rusher.

Edited by AEFalcon
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I watched and followed many of those teams growing up. None were players I remembered vividly. I would argue a great FS is more valuable on poor defenses as they are key to cover up for other players lapses . Where as FS on great defenses benefit from strong run defense (can focus on pass), strong CB play (can roam freely, read QB and make play on the ball) and most importantly strong pass rush (QB has to get rid of the ball quickly or on the move) therefore their stats my be higher than their presence. I know the heart and soul of Pitts defense was front 4 not the dbs

Regarding awards, fewer teams, even fewer dominate teams so man of the same players on the dominant teams won post season awards.

It comes across as these defense needed these FS to be great for when in fact all the needed was for them to be above average. Regardless, I think the key to all the great defenses you mentioned in the 70s/early80s were strong defensive linemen. In the 80', active versatile LBs and pass rushing specialist made key impacts.

Sorry neko, I respect your opinion and I agree Falcons need a FS but just do not agree with your assessment of these guys greatness. I do agree that FS is a position that needs upgrading maybe the most before Atl defense can be great. It maybe the 2nd or 3rd biggest need along with RT and edge rusher.

I had to look most of them up as I didnt start watching football until around 1980. You are spot on with your assessment re: how the FS benefits from stellar play around him and how that can affect stats. I will admit a slight biased positional pride entered the picture when I saw so many Pro Bowl berths & other accolades for the various FSs of these greatest defenses. This may have amped the energy up on the title and general premise. wink.png

In spite of that, I also feel you & others are still selling the position a tad short. Pardon the repetition below:

Edwards/Steelers - Most Valuable Steeler in '74 when they won the 1st of back-to-back SBs. He then went to the Pro Bowl the next two years.

Fencik/Bears - was the team's defensive captain through the '80s. 2 Pro Bowls 4 years before the '85 Bears dominated.

Anderson/Dolphins - 1973 NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

Krause/Vikings - 8 Pro Bowls. All time NFL interception leader.

Woodson/Ravens - elite player

Maybe the Pro Bowls were related to inflated stats with Edwards, and no doubt it creates an easier situation than safeties who have to work harder on other teams. But the Team MVP of a SB winner? League Defensive Player of the Year? Pro Bowls well before the team is winning the Super Bowl? Team Def. Captain for 8 seasons? 8 Pro Bowls? To receive honors like these say they are more than just products of great defenses.

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Neko, you can look-up stats and awards all you like but from watching and living football in the 70s, the players we are discussing did not stand out as much as many of their team-mates. I will stand by my statement that they were made better because of their All-Pro/Hall of Fame defensive team-mates.

No disrespect intended but we will just to have to agree to disagree.

Edited by AEFalcon
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Neko, you can look-up stats and awards all you like but from watching and living football in the 70s, the players we are discussing did not stand out as much as many of their team-mates. I will stand by my statement that they were made better because of their All-Pro/Hall of Fame defensive team-mates.

No disrespect intended but we will just to have to agree to disagree.

I am in agreement with you that they were made better from their All pro teammates. At the same time I find it too hard to believe from some of those league and team awards that they were just average players. But it's stale now. Moving on from that...

We need a starting FS and it will benefit this team greatly if he is talented.

/dead horse.

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Neko, that we certainly agree on. I think FS is the biggest hole on defense and should be in top 2-3 priorities in the draft along with RT and edge rusher. I like Ward Bucannon and Pryor in2nd round. After that I like Stanford's Ed Reynolds in 4th rd......after that not so sure.

Edited by AEFalcon
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we should take one in the 2nd. i think all the good ones will be gone by our 3rd.

Terrence Brooks or Deone Bucannon possibly. Ed Reynolds should be there. A little later there are some quality big CB 'tweeners like Exum who could play.

I think we'll take one, but I've got to think that since we cut DeCoud, and we're not going after one in FA, that we must have someone on the roster that they have some faith in.

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Yes, and a great FS will make that defense elite. Maybe this more accurately describes my original post.

That I could possibly agree with- that a great FS can make a great D elite...but I don't think that a great FS makes a (just) good defense great.

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Since we're comparing different eras, its important to see how Free Safeties are being used.

In the past, the Free Safety was strictly the last line of defense. Since the running game was more dominant then, there was less demanded of the Free Safety. Namely, you were expected to tackle in the open field well, and if you could put fear in those daring to catch center of the field, then you were considered a good Free Safety. Because teams ran the ball more then, there were less mistakes on the edges that you had to cover for in the passing game, so you weren't as exposed.

Nowadays, the passing games puts more stress on secondaries, so the Free Safety position has become a lot more important. There are multiple receiver looks to deal with, and mismatches being created by offenses. The mid-range passing game is big part of every offense nowadays, and also with the amount of zone and Cover 2 being played in the league, the Free Safety is being asked to do a lot more. Also, with the size and speed of today's receivers and tight ends, safeties can ill afford to make mistakes in terms of knowing where to help. How many times have we seen a Safety arrive late in helping, or take a poor angle, or be misdirected away from the targeted receiver? A big part of that is because of the advances in the passing game.

Today's Free Safety must diagnose quicker. This is what sets Earl Thomas and Ed Reed apart from their peers. Also, because teams throw more, it also increases the potential for interceptions, tipped passes, or receivers fumbling. Again, the elite Free Safeties have a tendency of causing or being where turnovers occur.

To answer the original question, is an elite Free Safety essential to today's defense? Well, there are only a handful of "elite" guys in the league at this position, but if you can get one, then it makes your defense much tougher. The proof is the 9 million bones that Jairius Byrd just got from the Saints.

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