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San Diego Chargers Positional Analysis: Safeties

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Eric Weddle - Playmaker extraordinaire. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Eric Weddle - Playmaker extraordinaire. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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Losses: Bob Sanders, Steve Gregory, Paul Oliver

Additions: Atari Bigby, Brandon Taylor

Returning: Eric Weddle, Darrell Stuckey, Nick Polk

Projected Starters: Eric Weddle, Atari Bigby

Strengths:

  • Eric Weddle: The only knock against Weddle is that he's not the best safety in the league. Sure, but he's one of the best. He's a pro bowler and a play maker. He finished tied for the league lead last year with 7 interceptions. He went to free agency last year where the Chargers were forced to give him more many than any free agent safety has ever received in order to keep him away from other teams. He makes the other players around him better with how good he is.
  • Leadership: The aforementioned Weddle is the leader in the secondary, but two of the younger players also come in being known for their leader. Taylor was the captain for a team full of stars and players with big egos as LSU. Stuckey was a team leader at Kansas. If something were to happen to Weddle, at least it would seem likely that someone could take charge.

Weaknesses:

  • Inexperience: Weddle has all the expierence he'll ever need, but the rest of the crew is not up to his level. Atari Bigby is new to the team and the system and doesn't have the recent starting experience to show that he'd be as ready to start as Steve Gregory and Paul Oliver were last year. Darrell Stuckey has been around the team for a couple of years now, but an injury in 2010 and a year of mostly playing special teams in 2011 have left him as a relative rookie at the safety position. Brandon Taylor was drafted in the 3rd round this offseason and still has much to learn.
  • Tight Ends: This has been a bugaboo for the Chargers defense for some time. The safeties don't take all the blame for the team again finishing near the bottom of the league defending TEs in 2011 again, but they aren't blameless either. A TE lining up against the safety is often a mismatch, but so can a TE vs a LB or CB. Good TEs are always a mismatch, but somehow other teams tend to do a better job against them than the Chargers do. The safeties take the brunt of that responsiblility since their job of keeping the TEs from getting big gains is the most important. A new defensive coordinator and some new personnel in this safety group might help, but it remains to be seen.