Football is one of the most popular sports in the world. It is a game that involves two teams, each with eleven players on the field. The objective of the game is to score more points than the opposing team by carrying or throwing a ball into the end zone.
Football is a game that is played with a lot of physical contact, which is why it is essential for players to be aware of the different positions on the field. One of the most critical positions in football is the strong safety.
A strong safety is a defensive player who lines up in the secondary, usually on the strong side of the field. Their primary responsibility is to stop the opposing team's running game and cover tight ends and receivers in their area.
Strong safeties are generally the second line of defense behind the defensive line. Unlike a free safety - who covers the last line of defense - the strong safety will play closer to the line of scrimmage in order to stop the run quicker and be in a position to make a big play.
Despite their different roles, the free safety and strong safety position themselves in relation to each other to serve as the last line of defense against wide receivers on passing plays.
What are their responsibilities?
The responsibilities of a strong safety typically include:
Coverage: The strong safety is required to cover receivers, tight ends, and running backs in passing situations. This involves reading the quarterback's eyes and anticipating the direction of the throw, as well as reacting quickly to break up passes or make interceptions when covering the pass.
Run support: In addition to pass coverage, the strong safety is also responsible for providing support in stopping the opposing team's running plays. This may involve blitzing the quarterback or filling gaps in the defensive line to tackle running backs.
Tackling: The strong safety must be an effective tackler, able to bring down opposing players quickly and effectively. This is particularly important in run defense, where the strong safety may be the last line of defense before a running back breaks into the open field.
What makes a great strong safety?
A great strong safety in football typically possesses a combination of physical attributes, mental acuity, and technical skills. They tend to be bigger and stronger than the free safety but they require many more skills to be great. Here are some key factors that contribute to a strong safety's effectiveness on the field:
Physicality: Strong safeties need to be physically imposing and able to deliver hard hits to opposing players. They should be strong, fast, and agile, with excellent balance and coordination.
Football IQ: Great strong safeties are highly intelligent and able to read the opposing team's offensive plays and adjust their positioning and strategies accordingly. They have a strong understanding of the game's rules, strategies, and tactics, which allows them to make quick decisions on the field.
Versatility: A strong safety needs to be able to play multiple positions on the field, including linebacker, cornerback, and even defensive end. They must be able to adapt to different roles and situations as required by the game's circumstances.
Communication: Strong safeties are often responsible for calling out defensive coverages and making adjustments on the field. They need to be excellent communicators who can effectively convey information to their teammates.
Technique: A great strong safety must have excellent technique, including tackling, coverage, and ball skills. They must be able to effectively wrap up opposing players to prevent them from gaining extra yards, and they must also be able to defend against passes and make interceptions.
Famous NFL strong safeties
Ronnie Lott: A Hall of Fame player, Ronnie Lott is widely considered one of the greatest strong safeties of all time. Lott was known for his hard hits and ability to read and react to opposing offenses. He won four Super Bowl titles and was selected to the Pro Bowl 10 times.
Troy Polamalu: Polamalu was known for his aggressive play and ability to make game-changing plays. Polamalu won two Super Bowls with the Steelers and was selected to the Pro Bowl eight times.
John Lynch: Lynch was selected to the Pro Bowl nine times and won a Super Bowl with the Buccaneers in 2002.
Kam Chancellor: Chancellor was a key member of the Seahawks' "Legion of Boom" defense and helped the team win a Super Bowl in 2014. Chancellor was selected to the Pro Bowl four times.