In my prior article on the NY Giants' 2013 roster, I said "To prevent a repeat of the 2012 season it starts with Big Blue's 2013 DEFENSE".
For more on that article click here. That first look focused on the front line of the secondary, the cornerbacks; in today's article I focus on the last line of defense, the safeties.
Fast facts reminder, from my prior article, for continuity purposes; the 2012 Giants:
- Ranked 31st in overall team defense
- Ranked T-16th in first-down defense
- Ranked 28th in passing-defense
- Ranked 25th in rushing-defense
Having said that, the one defensive unit that performed at or above its expectation was the safeties. Of the defense's 21 total interceptions the safeties totaled 10 (Stevie Brown - 8 / Antrel Rolle - 2); their No.1 & No. 4 tacklers were safeties (Rolle - 71, 4 for a loss / Brown - 56, 3 for a loss).
The first set of numbers is alarming for two reasons, first that Brown doubled the number of interceptions by any cornerback (Webster - 4) and second, Brown was an unknown safety thrust into action because of injury to starting safety Kenny Phillips, who played only five games in 2012.
That second set of numbers was reflective of the defense's overall futility as it is not advisable that two of your top five leading tacklers be safeties.
Rolle by almost 10 more than the next defender, in most cases it means the ball carrier is being tackled down field which certainly applied here. And of Rolle & Brown's 127 combined tackles only seven were for a loss! Something else to consider, if not for the emergence of Brown how worse might things have been for Big Blue?
Overall, my opinion is that the Giants' safeties: Antrel Rolle, Stevie Brown, Kenny Phillips, Will Hill, and Tyler Sash are the one unit that should remain intact. Keep in mind that during the great stretch run, of the 2011 regular season and then postseason, the defense was most potent when defensive coordinator Perry Fewell deployed the three safety look, thus a good stable of starting-caliber safeties is a good idea.
I would add that, as mentioned in "The Cornerbacks" review, Terrell Thomas might be a good addition for the Giants to consider in a switch from cornerback, if returning to corner proves to be too much stress on his thrice repaired knee.
Giants' fans what do you think about the unit overall and about the possibility of moving Thomas to safety, to groom him for the future (Rolle is now 30)?
For a closer look at the safeties, review the slideshow: