Monday, September 1, 2014

How Hard Is It For The Redskins To Find A Starting Safety?

Ever since the tragic and untimely death of Sean Taylor the Redskins have had a hard time filling the position of strong safety and free safety. Between freak injuries and players not playing their true position, safety has been a constant issue since.
   Hail Redskins Nation!!! The final 53 man roster is set and I must admit I was left scratching my head at some of the roster moves. But as always I have faith in Bruce Allen and Jay Gruden at picking the right players for what they are looking to accomplish in 2014. What got me thinking about this subject was the cutting of Phillip Thomas (signed to practice squad) and the news that NFL Network will be doing "A Football Life" documentary on Sean Taylor. The Redskins have drafted 7 safeties since 2006 and unfortunately for some reason or another things just haven't worked out in the Redskins favor. I know this might be a touchy subject for some since it's dealing with one of Redskins Nation favorite players of all time. The issues didn't start with the untimely death of Sean Taylor it started a few seasons prior. Let's go back.
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



Master4Caster said...

I do think you put too much blame on Cerrato for the Archuleta disaster. At that point, the Vinny was just compiling lists of names for Gibbs, Snyder and Gregg Williams to consider. He was not making the final call. This is mostly on Gibbs who was in charge of football operations. Williams saw Clark as just a guy that you could plug and play with anyone else. His mantra at the time was "everyone's a starter." To make thing worse, Williams switched to the Tampa-2 defense that required coverage skills by both safeties. Archuleta was a known liability in coverage. It's like Williams could not do the math on 2+2.

The owner has always been in love with other team's stars instead of his own talent. Clark, Clete Clemens and Antonio Pierce were allowed to walk to other teams where they won Super Bowls. Gibbs did a poor job preparing Cerrato and Snyder to run the franchise after his departure. The goat rodeo that led to Jim Zorn is proof. Gibbs being Gibbs, folks lay a lot misses at the feet of Cerrato instead of St. Joe..

@TattooedScorpio said...

well if u look at vinny track record and joe track record i think joe will come out on top. vinny was the defacto GM he had final say in moves he traded drafty picks for old veterans that snyder wanted. but a true gm will know how to handle the situation kinda like Bruce Allen. if u notice vinny who should hav never been a GM has not been allowed n a front office since he was let go. Joe gibbs track record is proven. how is he supposed to prepare someone who was already there b4 he got there created the disaster that he inheirted and then throws his hands up and says i didnt do that. vinny was only hired because snyder thoght he had something to do with the 49ers winning while he was there....but as we all learned vinny did nothing and mostly knew nothing. if vinny were worth anything he wouldnt just have a low budget radio show to make a living. appreciate u reading and ur comments

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