Redskins Position Breakdown: Safeties

Posted on August 21, 2014 by Matt Sloopka



Without question safety is the most concerning part of the Redskins line-up. Literally, since the homie upstairs Sean Taylor died back in 2007, this position has been cursed. We went from having a perennial Pro-Bowl game changer, to people like Madieu Williams. The position has been in constant shuffle, and our 2013 Draft choices are still up in the air.

As always, a position in flux comes with a variety of issues, namely experience in the defense and overall leadership. Couple that with a fairly ineffective front-7, and you have the 2013 Redskins safeties.

We started the year with high hopes for Phillip Thomas and Bacarri Rambo, our 2013 mid-round draft picks that were know for ball-hawking. This is just what we needed, more turnovers created by defense. Unfortunately, Phillip Thomas quickly went down with a Lisfranc in the preseason, and Rambo had numerous tackling issues that he is still trying to wipe from his reputation today.

This was a thing (courtesy of It actually had me pumped. A bunch of safeties that are known for ripping down picks.

Nope. Not the case in 2013. I actually had to look up who our other starting safety was last year, as we literally had no one.

  • Brandon Meriweather
  • Jose Gumbs
  • Reed Doughty
  • EJ Bigger (sometimes)
  • Phillip Thomas
  • Bacarri Rambo

As Meriweather attempted to murder opposing WRs and Rambo couldn't tackle a static practice dummy, everyone's buddy Reed Doughty stepped up on occasion. EJ Biggers and Jose Gumbs also played in some spots. This probably goes without saying, but the Redskins needed safety help in 2013/2014, and to be honest, they didn't do much. Every single analyst had the Redskins safety group as one of the league's worst. I don't even need to go over their stats, we were 3-13, just go watch the Green Bay game and cry.

As analysts projected the Redskins to go after a safety with their early 2014 2nd-round pick when top safeties got picked up in free agency (hello Jarius Byrd), expectations were high, only to be absolutely crushed as the top 4 safeties (Pryor, Clinton-Dix, Ward, Buchannon) were all taken before our spot. This meant we lost out on any sure starting talent the draft had, and we were back to the drawing board. 


As the 2014 season began, without any safeties drafted, we turned to an old vet with the leadership and experience the secondary needed. We dumped Gumbs and let Reed float away into retirement (we miss you Reed!).

Ryan Clark_21

Ryan Clark

Ryan Clark was signed as a slower, more weathered version of the player who befriended Sean Taylor in both their early careers (before we let him walk into his prime, sound familiar?). Although he is old, he brings the necessary fundamentals, communication, and leadership that our young picks from 2013 can learn from. This gives the second year players a bit of breathing room and time to develop, and true Redskins fans still holding their breath wondering what our safeties will do in 2014.

I think the Skins will keep 4 safeties, maybe 5 if one of the bubble guys can step up on special teams.

Ryan Clark (Starter) - Ryan Clark will be our starting strong safety as Meriweather will play FS and come into the box where his talents can make him more successful. As mentioned above, his leadership and experience will help greatly, and it will be important for him to maintain a level of performance that is more bend not break.

Da'Mon Cromartie-Smith (Sorry) - Sorry for this guy, but he just came on the roster too late.

Akeem Davis (Bubble/Depth) - An athletic freak. I have seen beat writers say numerous times the guy is huge, and if you check the NFL Network series "Undrafted" (he was an undrafted rookie, duh), you can learn more about this guys personality and what drives him. I have to be honest, I want this guy on the team. He's a beast, supposedly won the team athletic competition, works hard, and knows his role on special teams.

Madison Ross (Sorry) - Who?

Bacarri Rambo (Depth) - In my opinion the most improved player in 2014. This guy is everywhere in the preseason. He is tackling and hitting well, working on special teams, and has the eye of players and coaches. D. Hall mentioned this week that he believes Rambo is the most improved player on the roster and is playing great. Can't agree more.

Trenton Robinson (Bubble/Depth) - This guy is much like Akeem Davis in that he is a good hitter, hard worker, and understands his play on special teams will set him apart. He had a few good plays against the Browns, and he may be able to squeeze into the 4th or 5th spot depending what happens in these next few preseason games. He played with us last year, so that helps his cause.

Phillip Thomas (Depth) - Phillip Thomas has what everyone likes to call "upside", and what I like to call injury issues. He spent all 2013 out with a Lisfranc, and he hasn't been able to get many reps in training camp due to a quad issue. As one of our potential steals of last years draft, he needs to show he can play and stay on the field, or else his position as most peoples lock as the 4th safety may be in jeopardy. He is young, and can play, he just needs to show it.

Brandon Meriweather (Starter) - Ahh Mr. Meriweather. What a polarizing figure. I love his hrd hitting mentality and trash talk, I hate his suspensions and misplays. I pray weekly before I tuck myself in that Meriweather will return to his Pro Bowl ways now a year removed from the ACL injury, but God never listens, or maybe he is, and 2014 is the year!

next up:

Redskins Player Profile: Brandon Meriweather

August 21, 2014

A look at the defensive player who could be the key to his team's success in 2014.


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