Chargers just signed Free Safety Tre Boston who was recently cut by the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers are moving Kurt Coleman to free safety and after signing Mike Adams in Free Agency the team saw the former 2014 4th round pick a dispensable piece of their safety group. Boston started 10 games before ending last season on IR with a knee injury. Let’s look at some aspects of Chargers new addition Tre Boston’s game, from that 2016 season.
As the Chargers starting free safety (presumably), Boston will be covering the deep half of the field most of the time but is willing to lend a hand in run support. Boston likes to shoot gaps and knife in on ball carriers even when he’s the deep safety. He also plays his angles well to avoid blockers and get into the backfield. He understands where to be, the problem of course is the tackling which we’ll get to next. Boston is aggressive and can read and react, though often times wants nothing to do with oncoming blockers. One thing that is very clear when watching Tre Boston is he does not welcome contact. Here’s where he’s at his best, finding a lane and attacking it (He’s #33 in these clips or just follow the dreads):
This is the downside of Tre Boston as a player. His tackling is a mixed bag. Like the first play in the clip above, Boston at times will get low, wrap up and drive ball carriers to the ground but other times he will launch himself low and try to chop down running backs or wide receivers at their feet. Boston’s tackling technique wavers thus being inconsistent and you get plays like these:
We “tackled” (got the pun in) the bad traits early so we can talk about the exciting side of Tre Boston’s game which is the more important part of his role on the team and that’s how he fares in coverage. Like I mentioned earlier Boston is aggressive, he will gamble. He could stand to be a bit more disciplined rather than keeping his eyes in the backfield too long and getting baited by play action and pump fakes but his instincts and route recognition makes up for all that. Boston is a player that you like to have playing centerfield and cleaning up everything in front of him. He can jump on slants and crossers but also has the play speed to turn and run with receivers trying to go over the top. He does a good job of timing the ball in the air as well, many times he lowers his shoulder for a big hit or tries to get a hand in there as the ball meets the receiver:
Speaking of timing remember this hit on Hunter Henry? Pocket collapses, Rivers floats it off his backfoot and Henry has to turn and find the ball. All bad.
Tre Boston had seven pass breakups and two interceptions in 2016. The instincts and play recognition is there and so are the ball skills which he showed this season. While he only has three career interceptions, two of which were this past year, the improvement in that area is promising:
Former Panthers DC, current Bills Head Coach and my coach-crush Sean McDermott showed a lot of confidence in Boston last season giving him an expanded role. McDermott sent Boston as a blitzer and he collected two sacks in 2016. While I don’t envision Gus Bradley cutting him loose often, it’s an extra wrinkle that Boston can add:
Tre Boston is coming off his best year as a pro and only happens to be 24 years old. Chargers GM Tom Telesco has got a value signing after the draft before with guys like CB Brandon Flowers, OT Joe Barksdale and C Matt Slauson but what’s different this time around is that Boston could provide a long(er) term fix at safety. Boston was cut because the Panthers went in a different direction but he has 16 games of starting experience and his progression as a pro is trending upward. Carolina’s corners were not good last year and playing with Chargers cornerbacks like Jason Verrett and Casey Hayward should only set Boston up for a successful 2017 season if not for his best year yet. Tre Boston is an above average free safety with consistency issues but the bottom line is the Chargers upgraded their secondary and the team got better in an area they needed it the most.