|In the "new" NFL Sean might've had trouble adapting to|
the defenseless receiver rule.
It all started when Joe Gibbs 2.0 and the Washington Redskins drafted Sean Taylor in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft. Sean Taylor was the prototype of the perfect safety. He had size, could hit, cover ground, a ballhawk and a terror to any offensive player on an opposing team on any given Sunday. I know we all enjoyed his constant torment of Terrell Owens in a Eagles uniform or a Dallas uniform ( If you click the link you will be treated to some of them). A year later a undrafted rookie Free Safety named Ryan Clark was signed by the team. Ryan and Sean became fast friends and created a bond that would become crucial for the development of both of the young football players. This allowed Sean to play strong safety which put him to closer to the action and would allow him to lay the wood to any and everybody coming his way. The tandem was hard hitting, had a nasty streak, occasionally took a bad angle sometimes but for the most part were where they were supposed to be. They were both on their way to making a name for themselves in the NFL. The saying "if it ain't broke don't fix it" applies here BIG TIME.
Along comes the "genius" Vinny Cerrato who decides to cut Ryan Clark and go an overpay Adam Archuleta. In 2006 they also drafted one of my favorite players SS Reed Doughty. Doughty wasn't spectacular at all but was a steadying force because he was where he was supposed to be and did his job but was more of a fill in player than a starter. The problem was that Archuleta was a downgrade of Ryan Clark and really stunted the growth of the young promising safety. After that failed experiment, in 2007 the team drafted SS LaRon Landry who was a tackling machine and intimidating hitter also. Also bought in two veteran safeties Omar Stoutmire and Pierson Prielou to help solidify the back end. I still say if Sean Taylor and LaRon Landry were able to play together that the Redskins would have one of the deadliest safety combinations ever. Sean was off to a spectacular start to the season and was hearing talk of possible Defensive Player of the Year. Then on November 27, 2007 tragedy struck and ended a promising career and life of a young family man. Sean Taylor was tragically killed and the team, players, coaches, and fans would never be the same again. I felt like I lost a little brother as I'm sure most people did also.
Every since that terrible day Redskins Nation and the Washington Redskins haven't been the same since. We all wonder what type of secondary the team would have if Sean Taylor and LaRon Landry had been able to build the chemistry that Clark and Taylor were able to build. Since 2007 the Redskins have had at least 21 safeties line up in the defensive back field. Now I'm not going to name all of them but I will highlight some of the players that I saw with great potential but for some reason or another it just didn't work out.
My first choice is, you guessed it, LaRon Landry. He is a dynamic SS that could make game changing plays and would bring it down in the box. Unfortunately he couldn't stay healthy enough to play on a consistent basis. After Sean's passing they tried him at FS which was a mistake and I believe was the beginning of the end for his time here. My next choice is FS Kareem Moore who was drafted in 2008. He had great range, open field tackling skills and seemed to mesh well with the defense as a rookie. After a fluke knee injury in one of the last games of the 2010 and two unsuccessful knee surgeries he was released and would never play in the NFL again. Another quality safety drafted was Chris Horton. He made an immediate impact in the secondary by creating and forcing turnovers being named the Defensive Rookie of the Week and Defensive Rookie of the Month. After a toe injury that landed him on the injured reserve in 2010, released at the beginning of the 2011 season. Horton was picked up by the Giants in 2012 but was released and hasn't played again in the NFL. In 2012 the Redskins drafted FS/SS Jordan Bernstein. I must say he was one of my favorites. He had perfect size, versatility, and could cover ground. I just knew he would be the starting safety for years to come. Then you guessed it, first kickoff of the 2012 season n he has a career ending knee injury and never plays another down. That brings me to Phillip Thomas. A 2013 draft pick with the versatility to play FS/SS, could hit and had a nose for the ball. In the first preseason game of the season he suffers a Lisfranc injury which is a very hard injury to come back from. He looked well in camp and in the three preseason games he played in but soreness in his medically repaired foot has gotten him released and signed to the practice squad. This seems promising since there has been no report of another surgery required.
Don't get me wrong, I don't mean to be doom and gloom but it's crazy how much bad luck we've had with the safety position. Those are just the highlighted players but there are plenty more of safeties that have lined up and for some reason or another things just didn't work out. I miss the hell out of Sean Taylor as a football player and a family man that was changing his life for the better but was taken from all of us way too soon. Maybe Phillip Thomas is the answer or maybe with the team actually having a first round pick next year, they may draft a quality play making safety if one is available. The Redskins need a play maker in there secondary and haven't had one since "The Great Sean Taylor. R.I.P ST21