A Three-Safety Defense

July 1st, 2009
NFL.coms Pat Kirwan still believes Jermaine Phillips will be a safety, not a linebacker.

NFL.com's Pat Kirwan still believes Jermaine Phillips will be a safety, not a linebacker.

Joe has a lot of gripes with how the offseason has transpired for the Bucs. But one element that puzzles Joe to this day is the move of stud safety Jermaine Phillips, 30, to linebacker.

As Joe told his good friend Justin Pawlowski live on the air during a broadcast of “The Blitz” on WDAE-AM 620 at Fan Fest, just after Bucs general manager Mark Dominik stared down Joe, the NFL is no place to learn a new position. Certainly not at 30 when most players are in their waning NFL playing days.

Sure, there are countless examples of good players changing positions in their careers. Ronnie Lott from cornerback to safety springs to mind. Dan Dierdorf from right tackle to center is another. But these were not drastic shifts. Their core responsibilities were not different. Lott was still a defensive back; Dierdorf an offensive lineman.

Moving from safety to linebacker is like moving from tailback to tight end. Two totally, completely different responsibilities, et al.

Also, the Bucs preaching a youth movement at linebacker is rendered hollow by moving a 30-year old to linebacker.

Joe remembers the day Phillips being moved to linebacker was announced. He vividly remembers Pat Kirwan of Sirius NFL Radio during a broadcast of “Movin’ the Chain,” bark, “I don’t buy it.”

Rather, Kirwan suggested the Bucs were moving to a three-safety set, yet still calling their defense a 43-defense.

Kirwan’s still banging the drum. In an article on NFL.com, Kirwan talks about the better safety duos in the NFL and brings up Phillips.

Some teams are taking safeties and trying to convert them into linebackers for added versatility. Tampa Bay is looking to turn former safety Jermaine Phillips into a linebacker, but really, they’re just building a three-safety defense.

This makes sense to Joe. And it also makes sense that defensive coordinator Jim Bates wouldn’t broadcast in the middle of the summer how he will specifically use Phillips.

The Bucs defense will have its hands full this season. No need to help opposing offenses out in July.

One Response to “A Three-Safety Defense”

  1. Jorge Says:

    Kirwan is great, good heads up…Joe you have crazy time on your hands brother…