One of the more critical decisions the Jaguars have to make during the preseason is the rotation in the defensive backfield. The Jaguars have a curse of riches when it comes to their cornerbacks and safties, which is a nice change of pace from the injury riddled secondary of last season. When the Jaguars acquired Drayton Florence in free agency, the team faced the issue of where exactly to play Brian Williams and how Gerald Sensabaugh would fit into the scheme.
Well, wonder no more, Jack Del Rio announced how it will work, and despite it's obviousness, still raises questions about who should really be the starter at Strong Safety.
When the team is in the nickel defense, Del Rio said that Sensabaugh will play safety, and Brian Williams will be the nickel back. In the base defense, Williams will start at safety, and Sensabaugh will be on the sidelines.
I spoke with Charlie of JagNation last night on their Radio Show about the issue of having Sensabaugh as a situational player when he might be a better pure strong safety than Williams. One concern is that we have Gerald who is a known quantity as a hard-hitting safety, especially against a running back. Brian Williams, while not as a Safety, has been pushed aside and stiff armed away from the tackle quite a few times, especially against Willie Parker of the Steelers. If a running back breaks past the linebackers and has one person between him and the end zone, who do you really want to square up and make the tackle?
For me, the answer is Gerald Sensabaugh. I've seen so far in training camp and preseason that he's fully recovered from his surgeries and is ready to get out there and lay the wood, so to speak. Brian Williams as a cover safety gives me no worries, but on an expected running play, as our base defense will cover, B-dub might be a liability.
On the flip side, I'm tremendously excited about what the Nickel package will look like. That's a bunch of good cover guys, hopefully enough to give Manning and Brady fits. Sure, Brian might be better on the outside rather than in the nickel corner position, but the trio of Florence, Mathis, and Williams is pretty stout.
Having Gerald at Strong Safety in the 3 CB defense helps reinforce against a play-action run, which is reassuring. I do have questions about the decision though. Is this a true "Brian Williams is a better Strong Safety than Gerald" arrangement, or is there the obvious factor that Williams is due to make significantly more money than Sensabaugh and the talent factor comes second.
I've got no doubt that Williams will be a good SS, I just wonder if Gerald is the better choice.