NYT’s Fifth Down blog has some intriguing rankings up today — with Antrel Rolle claiming the #3 overall safety spot in the NFL.
Now I’m not sure whether I agree with this… and it will certainly be interesting to see what he does in 2011 after he’s fully settled in to a new coordinator, new scheme, and new teammates. But in looking back at Rolle’s first year in New York after signing a big contract with the Giants, he had an inconsistent year. But according to the NYT, it was good enough apparently to move up from #8 to #3 this year because of his all around versatility:
Played the role of Charles Woodson for the Giants last season. All-around versatility is a huge asset.
But this is a NY publication that also had Kenny Phillips on the cusp of being a top 10 safety as well… before we go further lets look at the bigger picture.
Phillips who battled back from knee surgery last year did have a good season. He was relatively consistent especially stepping up to stop the run in crucial situations if you recall. But both Rolle and Phillips along with Deon Grant allowed the Eagles and Packers to torch the Giants secondary when it mattered most. Missed tackles and blown assignments went for too many TDs down the stretch — and Perry Fewells’ bend but don’t break defense that had started the year not giving up any big plays over the top was beaten to the pulp at the most important time of the season. Finishing time. Even against the REX – SKINS, a meaningless game for Washington basically where they played a ton of rookies — Rolle struggled to stay in position and make plays.
Pro Football Focus has ranked the Safety play from last year as well — and their story on Rolle is completely different. He is ranked inside the BOTTOM 10 of all safeties in the league with a -10.1 cumulative score!
Kenny Phillips on the other hand is ranked inside the TOP 10 because of the consistency of play — with a very positive +9.3 and a huge run stopping ranking of +7.3 which puts him at #4 in the NFL for that aspect of play. Not too shabby….
And in the end you have free safeties going up against strong safeties — very different roles on the field with very different responsibilities to jude. But to play the other side for a moment — perhaps Rolle’s tenure as a pro bowl free Safety with some success in Arizona is more what’s landing him at #3 than actual consistency on the field. Phillips on the other hand will be entering year 2 post-surgery and looks to be the emerging star we all hoped he would become.