Author Archives: Amaar Burton

Brian Dawkins voted into Pro Football Hall of Fame

Brian Dawkins

Perhaps it should have been taken as a sign of things to come.

Before the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots met in Super Bowl LII this past Sunday, two men who are arguably the greatest defensive backs in each franchise’s respective histories were among the finalists up for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s class of 2018.

Ty Law, the five-time Pro Bowl cornerback who spent 10 seasons with the Patriots, didn’t make the cut. Brian Dawkins, the nine-time Pro Bowl safety who spent 13 seasons with the Eagles, was voted in on Saturday. The next day, the Eagles defeated the Patriots for the franchise’s first Super Bowl title. Continue reading

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Lattimore wins NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year

Marshon Lattimore

The NFL’s first Defensive Rookie of the Year award was given to a cornerback: Lem Barney of the Detroit Lions back in 1967. Since then, only seven other corners (and two safeties) have received the honor.

Marshon Lattimore of the New Orleans Saints joined the club at Saturday’s NFL Honors award show, winning a landslide vote over Buffalo Bills CB Tre’Davious White and San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster.

Lattimore and Barney have another historical connection: With Saints running back Alvin Kamara winning the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year, Lattimore and Kamara became the second set of teammates to sweep the league’s ROTY awards. The first were Barney and Lions RB Mel Farr in 1967, exactly 50 years prior. Continue reading

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Super Bowl 52: A look at the secondaries

Malcolm Butler (21), Patrick Chung (23)

Flip the number 52 around and you’ll get 25. Which I found interesting for the purpose of this piece, because there are a lot of similarities between this year’s Super Bowl 52 pitting the New England Patriots against Philadelphia Eagles, and Super Bowl 25, when the Buffalo Bills faced the New York Giants in 1991.

Back then, the Bills were heavily favored to beat the Giants. Buffalo had the NFL’s most prolific offense, led by quarterback Jim Kelly, running back Thurman Thomas, and receivers Andre Reed and James Lofton. (All of them are now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.) The defense was solid — led by Hall of Fame defensive end Bruce Smith — but it was Buffalo’s offense that was its biggest strength.

The Giants made it to the Super Bowl thanks primarily to its defense, headlined by Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor (arguably the greatest defensive player in NFL history), Pro Bowl DE Leonard Marshall and LB Carl Banks, and cornerback Everson Walls, who is a finalist for the 2018 Hall of Fame class. Continue reading

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Woodson, Reed voted into College Football Hall of Fame

Ed Reed

If you were to put together an all-time dream team of a secondary for any level of football, no one would call you crazy for including Charles Woodson and Ed Reed.

Two of the greatest defensive backs the game has seen never did share a secondary outside of the NFL’s Pro Bowl, but they will share the stage when both are inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as part of the 2018 class. Continue reading

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NFC defensive backs to watch in the NFL playoffs

Ronald Darby

The NFL playoff field is set — an eclectic mix of high-powered offenses (the Rams score a league-best 29.9 points per game) and stingy defenses (the Vikings allow a league-low 15.8 points per game), hotshot rookies (league rushing leader Kareem Hunt) and Hall of Fame locks who have been playing forever (Tom Brady), postseason regulars (Steelers) and teams that haven’t been to the playoff party in a long time (Bills).

Since they say defense wins championships, that means there are some defensive backs whose play will mean a lot in determining how the road to the Super Bowl is paved. Continue reading

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Four DBs among finalists for 2018 Pro Football Hall of Fame class

Everson Walls

Terrell Owens and Randy Moss will be at the center of the two most heated debates when it comes to the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2018.

The statistics and impact of both wide receivers are undeniably Hall-worthy. But T.O. and Moss were also controversial figures who didn’t have great relationships with the media or great reputations with a lot of fans. And it’s no secret that politics and goodwill with the voting media play a role in one’s Hall of Fame chances.

This isn’t the first year on the ballot for Owens, who should have been a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Moss is on the ballot for the first time. On Tuesday, they were announced as two of the 15 finalists for induction in the Hall’s 2018 class. Continue reading

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AFC defensive backs to watch in the NFL playoffs

Malcolm Butler

The NFL playoff field is set — an eclectic mix of high-powered offenses (the Rams score a league-best 29.9 points per game) and stingy defenses (the Vikings allow a league-low 15.8 points per game), hotshot rookies (league rushing leader Kareem Hunt) and Hall of Fame locks who have been playing forever (Tom Brady), postseason regulars (Steelers) and teams that haven’t been to the playoff party in a long time (Bills).

Since they say defense wins championships, that means there are some defensive backs whose play will mean a lot in determining how the road to the Super Bowl is paved. Continue reading

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Defensive backs to watch in the College Football Playoff

Clemson’s Ryan Carter

Defense hasn’t necessarily been the name of the game ahead of the 2018 College Football Playoff, even though three of the four teams involved field three of the nation’s best defenses.

Alabama allows the fewest points (11.5 per game) of any team in Division 1-A. Clemson ranks second, giving up 12.8 points per game, and Georgia is tied for third (with Wisconsin) at 13.2 points allowed. The fourth team in the playoff, Oklahoma, didn’t crack the nation’s top 50 defensively (25.0 points allowed), but the Sooners make up for it by leading the nation in offensive yards (583 per game) and ranking fourth in scoring with 44.9 points per game. Continue reading

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Fitzpatrick leads college football’s award-winning DBs

Minkah Fitzpatrick

As a collective unit, Alabama has had the best defensive backfield in college football for at least the last three seasons — which coincides with the rise junior Minkah Fitzpatrick, the Crimson Tide’s do-everything DB who has lined up at safety, cornerback, and any other uniquely-named hybrid position that coach Nick Saban wants to use that particular week.

Fitzpatrick has been one of college football’s best defensive players during his time in Tuscaloosa, and earlier this month he earned two of the highest honors that a Division-1 defensive back can receive — short of the Heisman Trophy — when he won both the 2017 Chuck Bednarik Award and the Jim Thorpe Award. Continue reading

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Jaguars cornerback tandem tabbed to start in Pro Bowl

A.J. Bouye, Jalen Ramsey

When free agent cornerback A.J. Bouye signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars in March, penciled in to start opposite 2016 rookie sensation Jalen Ramsey, it gave the Jaguars arguably the NFL’s best pair of corners — on paper.

This week, that status was all but confirmed, as Bouye and Ramsey were selected as the starting cornerbacks for the AFC in the 2018 Pro Bowl. The NFL’s annual all-star game is scheduled for Jan. 28 in Orlando.

Bouye had six interceptions this season to go with 17 pass breakups and 49 tackles. Ramsey registered four interceptions, 17 pass breakups and 53 tackles. Continue reading

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