2022 NFL playoff split round: All eight remaining teams have these two things in common

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Quarterbacks and safety have a fascinating relationship.

Throughout every game, these are the safeties that quarterbacks often watch most carefully. They try to manipulate those defensive backs before deciding where to throw the ball. Meanwhile, the safeties are constantly repositioning themselves, rotating before and after the snap in an attempt to confuse the quarterbacks in the hopes that they will trick them into making a bad call. It’s the most complex game of cat and mouse in football.

Quarterbacks have a seemingly endless list of responsibilities. Be accurate and smart with the football, throw with anticipation, correct touch, timing and speed, get away from pocket pressure, use your legs to create, etc. The securities also have a long list of tasks in the field, especially today. Go from deep middle to defend a sideline pass, don’t overcommit to play action, get the man in the slot, run with the tight end along the seam, play linebacker, blitz from l exterior, etc.

And the best quarterbacks mask the flaws of the team. They can conjure offensive magic even when the designed deck fails. And the best safeties are error erasers. They turn blown covers into incompletes and disintegrate touchdowns in seconds before they fully materialize.

These two players are often at odds but are, in many ways, mirror images of each other.

The eight teams that will play in the divisional round of these NFL playoffs have two things in common. Quality-to-elite play from their quarterback, and they all have at least one cleat safety. The often overlooked last line of defense has never been more important in the NFL.

The Bills have Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer. Kevin Byard is a first-team All-Pro for the Titans. Cincinnati is patrolling Jessie Bates. Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu has long been an impact player. Taylor Rapp has flashed over 1,100 snaps for the Rams this season. The Buccaneers have versatile point guard Antoine Winfield Jr. at fullback. And either Packers safety Adrian Amos or 49ers Jimmie Ward are the most underrated of the bunch.

Counting the first round of the playoffs, this is the collective coverage stat line for those safeties.

Playoff star safeties

372

246

2660

24

30

74.8

That 74.8 passer rating is essentially on par with Justin Fields during the regular season and only a tick better than Trevor Lawrence and Sam Darnold.

And of course, these safeties do much more than strictly cover, but their ability to stifle passes thrown in their direction is their most important professional responsibility.

Yet in the past decade, only two safeties have been selected in the top 10 (Jamal Adams and Mark Barron), and they were both more linebackers than coverage specialists. Of the group assembled in this article, Ward was the only first-round pick — No. 30 overall in 2014. In the draft, the perceived value of safeties should and likely will change.

We’ve long understood that quarterbacks are the most essential characters in an offense, and over the past decade, as we’ve truly entered a passing renaissance in the NFL, that narrative has rightly gained traction. popularity.

As we enter the second round of the playoffs, we need to give the big safeties the recognition they deserve as the quarterbacks of the best defensive teams.

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