We here we are at the last few positions of the defense. We are talking cornerbacks and safeties (CB and FS SS). These two are the deepest positions on the field. What that means is that they usually line up much farther back from the line of scrimmage than the other defensive players. Sometimes they aren’t even visible on TV because of how far back they are. These are the players that make up the “secondary”. Secondary means the group of players that usually defend the pass plays.
The cornerback is the player that defends against the wide receiver. They are fast, lean and a special kind of competitive. Corners line up behind the linebackers. When the ball is snapped, these are the defenders that we see running alongside the wide receivers. They have a special love for intercepting the football. Some are so good at intercepting that opposing offenses will not even try to pass to their side. If they can’t intercept the ball, they try to bat it away or run the wide receiver out of bounds. Most of these match ups will happen very close to the side lines. That is very intentional by the defense because they are trying to make the space very small for the wide receivers. The less space they have to make a play, the more opportunities for the corner to make a play and the harder it is for a quarterback to get the ball to their player. These guys have to be mentally tough as well. They are the defenders that are beat when a wide receiver makes a great catch. All eyes are upon them (kind of like the Eye of Sauron from Lord of the Rings) when a deeply thrown ball is caught by the receiver. They have to get back up and defend again, because if the offense is successful at that once, then they will try it again. So the corner has to shake it off and do it again.
The last line of defense are the positions that are called safeties. I have always found that name ironic. There is nothing safe about a safety, it would be more accurate to be called “un-safeties”. One of the things that the safeties do is hang back and watch the play unfold. They will then adjust to whatever the play is. There are two types of safeties, the free safety and the strong safety. The strong safety is a generally a little bigger than the free safety. He lines up a little closer to the line backers (a little closer to the line of scrimmage) and has a bigger part in the rushing defense. The free safety lines up deeper and has a bigger part in the passing defense. Both players are expected to be great tacklers because if the offense gets past them, it’s pretty much over; the offense will score. Safeties are another position that loves to be challenged. They look forward to the contact and conflict that comes with the game.
It seems that the farther away a player lines up from the line of scrimmage the more contentious they are. They thrive on the collective hate that opposing offenses direct their way. They are the antithesis of a people pleaser unless they are on your team’s defense. If you are wondering what I am talking about watch corners Richard Sherman or Lester Hayes (retired). Also ask about Earl Thomas and Jairus Byrd ( if anything, your loved ones will be so impressed that you know those names).
Happy watching! And Merry Christmas!