2. The Big Dime
With so much pass-rush ability sewn into the defensive front four and two outside linebackers, it may take a dedicated and coordinated effort to lock-up the safety play. Rumors of two aging corners, Terrance Newman and Nate Clements, moving to safety aren’t absurd considering the relative inexperience at the position and the unknown status of Leon Hall at the corner. Further, Defensive Coordinator Mike Zimmer has a penchant for utilizing a strong safety as a pass rusher, making Taylor Mays’ role as a starter seems more fitting but leaving the coverage rotation a question mark. Don’t expect the overall secondary roster spots to decrease, but rather to take on an interesting make up.
Based purely on the measure of fielded individuals, this secondary would struggle, and thus something other than relying on physical man coverage and raw talent as a bread-and-butter must be found. Code named “The Big Dime”, Coach Zimmer is looking to create schemes that bring these highly talented veterans and rookies together as more than simply a sum of their parts. It’s fair to expect a lot of deception rushing from the secondary and zone coverage, something that may even involve linebackers in dropping into coverage, hence the interesting appearance of a kid like Lamur Emmanuel who is a converted strong safety from Kansas State. There will be married moments of individual hyper-aggressive man-to-man play from the few with horns on their helmets, namely Dre Kirkpatrick and Adam Jones, however; it’s important to remember that overall employment of this merry band of first round draft picks is still a huge gamble. Bottom line, it’s not reasonable to anticipate success until it is tested in the regular season.
In Zimmer we trust.