Maximizing Ronde Barber

So far our defense has looked pretty good, right?  Right?  Especially that secondary, right?  Anybody???  OK, there's no fooling Bucs fans let alone rival offensive coaches.  Right now they are licking their chops to play us so that they can send up some fireworks.  My solution, since learning that Tanard Jackson has an undisclosed substance abuse problem, is to move Ronde Barber back to FS.  This move would not be unprecedented as other players have made the switch.  Probably the best example is Hall of Famer Rod Woodson.  After starting at corner for 10 years Baltimore decided to put him on the back line.  At the age of 34 he had a bit of a renaissance season netting 7 picks and making 54 solo tackles.  As an aging player that was never really known for his quicks, this move allowed him to play another five seasons after the switch.

From 1999 to 2003 Rod Woodson started 74 games at FS.  In that time he amassed 24 interceptions with 5 of them coming all the way back for TDs.  His nose for the ball allowed him to be in position to knock out 3 fumbles as well as pick up 10.  In this time he amassed 287 tackles (about 57 a year) while assisting on another 64 (about another 12). 

Rod Woodson is not the only example that comes to mind.  Aeneas Williams switched over his last two seasons.  The same can be said for Troy Vincent and Artrell Hawkins.  Two others that made the switch much earlier are Ronnie Lott and Antrel Rolle.  Here is a look at their career numbers at each position:

Barber R. Woodson A. Williams Vincent Lott A. Rolle A. Hawkins Total
CB S CB S CB S CB S CB S CB S CB S CB S
Starts 168   154 74 181 26 173 23 66 123 28 16 76 16 678 278
Sacks 23   13.5 0 2 1 4.5 1 3.5 5 0 0 3 1 26.5 8
Int 37   47 24 51 4 42 5 23 40 7 1 10 1 180 75
Int. TD 7   7 5 8 1 3 0 4 1 3 1 1 0 26 8
FF 11   17 3 5 3 11 1 2 14 2 0 10 2 47 23
FR 10   22 10 19 4 9 3 5 12 0 0 6 1 61 30
Fumble TD 4   1 0 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 1
Solo Tackle 755   763 287 577 100 663 61 420 693 157 77 361 65 2941 1283
Assist Tackle 149   43 64 94 23 115 33 0 33 19 11 43 25 314 189

 

Something common to all of these players is that they could always be found around the ball.  That is what you want out of your safety.  A thinker that can break down what is going on in front of him and keep it there.  There haven't been too many players like Ronde Barber in the history of the league.  He's a sure tackler, great blitzer, and can do something when the ball is in his hands.  That he is undersized makes me root for him even harder.  I would like to see Ronde stick around for a couple of more years and I think a move to FS is the best way to do that.  

  All numbers compiled from pro-football-reference

If anyone knows any other great examples of guys that made the switch please feel free to name-drop.  I couldn't find a truly great resource so I had to go off the top of my head as well as what google was able to spit out.

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