Posts Tagged With: Rodney McLeod

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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Pick Six: Players of the Week

Grant Haley

Grant Haley

Six secondary standouts from football’s week that was:

Grant Haley, CB, Penn State (NCAA): Grant Haley isn’t slow. According to his Penn State bio, he lettered in track and field in high school, and he’s already set football records as a kick returner for the Nittany Lions. His mom, Carla Neal-Haley, ran track for Penn State, so we know he doesn’t come from slow genes.

And yet I’ve never been so worried that a defensive back was going to get caught in a 60-yard sprint by a kicker and a punter as I was when Haley juuuuust beat Ohio State’s Tyler Durbin and Cameron Johnston to the end zone in Penn State’s 24-21 upset win over the 2nd-ranked Buckeyes on Saturday. Continue reading

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NFC West has three of NFL.com’s top five secondaries

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If all you’re working with is a TV, a late-night recap show and some basic stats, you may encounter the same methodical flaws in grading a football team’s defensive backfield as you would in grading a baseball team’s outfield.

For the most part, we notice DBs and outfielders when they make a really good play (an interception, a diving catch, a TD-saving tackle, a rocket-like throw) and when they make a really bad play (getting burned for a TD, making an error, committing pass interference, misplaying a ball in the field). Without looking at all the angles and some more advanced stats, it’s easy to lose appreciation for the underrated yet crucial act of being in the right place at the right time. When done right, it makes an effective defense look kind of boring. Which makes a defensive coordinator sleep well at night. Continue reading

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Pick Six: Players of the Week

Jalen-Ramsey-FSU

Six secondary standouts from football’s week that was:

Jalen Ramsey, FS, Florida State (NCAA) — The sophomore safety was just as clutch as superstar QB Jameis Winston during the Seminoles’ 30-26 comeback win over Miami, making big plays all over the field in the second half. Ramsey finished with three tackles, four pass breakups, a forced fumble and the victory-sealing interception with under a minute to go.

Johnthan Banks, CB, Buccaneers (NFL) — Banks facilitated a turnover on the game’s first play from scrimmage when his hit separated Washington receiver Niles Paul from the ball, which was intercepted by Tampa Bay linebacker Danny Lansanah. Later in the first quarter of the Bucs’ eventual 27-7 win, Banks snagged a deflected pass for an interception of his own, which he returned for a touchdown after trucking Washington QB Robert Griffin III near the goal line. Continue reading

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