I don't understand why people have been so sudden to change their mind about Bryan Scott. Sure, I was never in love with the guy. I never thought he was going to be the next Darren Sharper, but he's not a bad player. He's just having a bad year. Sure, safeties the caliber of Brian Dawkins aren't expected to have bad years, but when did we start putting those type of expectations on Scott.
Interceptions, IMO are so overrated a statistic. Guess which safety is currently tied for 3rd in the NFL in interceptions? Brent Alexander. DeAngelo Hall is tied for 3rd in the NFL in interceptions at his position, but does that mean he's an elite cornerback. I'm sure most of us can recall that for the overwhelming majority of this season, the overwhelming majority of posters have been saying, "Hall needs to play better."
Interceptions, IMO are more often than not a matter of opportunity. A player like Brian Russell, who most view is being an average safety had 9 interceptions in 2003. In his 3 other NFL seasons, he's had 3. A lot of times, intercepting a pass is a matter of being in the right place at the right time, and the only true skill involved is catching the ball. It's why 6 of Hall's career 7 interceptions are meaningless IMO. Because 6 of his 7 were thrown right to him. The only time Hall has made an interception that actually showcased some defensive ability was vs. the Bills, with one shoulder he jumped in front of a Losman pass, making an excellent break on the ball and intercepted it. All his other interceptions have come on very poor passes by QBs in which tehy were miles away from the WR (see Detroit game) or on Hail Marys at the end of games (see his 2 picks in 2004).
To me a more telling statistic of actual defensive ability for a CB/S is passes defensed, because they usually include batting a pass down, tipping it away, knocking it out of a receivers hand, and yes intercepting it. There are 31 cornerbacks that rank ahead of DeAngelo Hall in passes defensed. That to me is a stronger indication of the kind of season Hall has been having. That would mean he's about on par with an average NFL starting cornerback, which I think when you look at his season as a whole is much more accurate than a Top 5 cornerback. Now let's look at Bryan Scott: Only 16 safeties in the NFL rank ahead of him in PD, he has 6. Which means that if you take away those that are interceptions, he's in fact broken up more passes than DeAngelo Hall has this year, comparing Scott's 5 to Hall's 4.
Brian Dawkins leads the league right now with 16 PD. Ed Reed had 17 last year. Sure, Reed's 9 interceptions were outstanding last year, but more because of what he did after he caught the ball rather than him making the catch. But why is it that Reed isn't having a good year this year? Not because he hasn't managed a single interception in 6 games this year, it's because he's broken up only 1 pass.
And I don't believe he's poor in run support, but he's having the same struggles with tackling ball carriers that a lot of our defenders seem to have. The thing is that when a safety misses a tackle it is more evident because the safety is that last line of defense normally (thus their nomenclature).
Here's how I break down the issues we have at safety:
1. I never thought that Keion Carpenter's move to SS was going to be good for this team. Carpenter is a steadying sideline and locker room influence, but in terms of his on field play, he's nothing special and is a dime back moonlighting as a starter. Fact is, it makes Bryan Scott the sole playmaker at the safety position. Putting more pressure on him.
2. The front 7 hasn't done their job making the stops up front. Scott is never going to be the caliber of tackler that other FSs like Dawkins, Sean Taylor, etc. are going to be. When those guys miss a tackle it's a huge deal. Scott just isn't that talented and to put the expectations that a safety should never miss a tackle is going to have you looking for safeties for a very long time. Again, putting more pressure on Scott.
3. With all this talk of pressure, it also isn't helping that he's playing a relatively new position. He played SS in college, played SS for his first 2 years for the Falcons. He's now playing FS. He's making the calls in the secondary, which have been previously handled by Carp and Cory Hall. Let's also not forget that missed the entire off-season due to an injury.
I'm not trying to say Scott is playing well. He's not by any perspective. But I don't understand how quickly people are ready to label him a bust and just give up on him.
Scott's issues can be solved with the following things:
1. We acquire a run-stopping safety in the very near future (preferably this upcoming off-season). A player that is not going to be considered a "liability" in run support. A player that's enforcer-"I'm going to hit anything that moves over the middle, not matter the fines or detriment to my health or that of the opposing player" type of mentality that is going to rub off on the rest of our DBs.
2. Possibly contemplate Scott returning to the SS position. But that would be dependent on finding a FS that fits the above description *cough* Greg Blue *cough*.
3. The front seven doing a better job stopping the run so that Scott is not forced into the situation 5-10 times a game where he's gotta make a tackle in order to prevent a TD.
4. His continual growth as a player by adding experience and being able to overcome these types of setbacks.
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.