Originally Posted by BroncoBeavis
I'm not saying a safety is never at fault for giving up a first down. But there are many other cases where a safety making a tackle at all is due to a failure up front. And in those cases, it doesn't make any sense to judge him on whether a first down was gained or not. You'd have to know specifically what his assignment was before you could make that call.
First down stops would be a much better yardstick for the front 7 than for anyone in the secondary. And I'm not willing to pass much blame off on the secondary (for run support) when the play of the front 7 seems so suspect.
The first part of this is true. A lot of the time, the safety is the clean up player in run support unless he has a gap assignment. So, him making a tackle at all can be because the other front 7 players got beat or simply lost their gap responsibility. In those cases, their job is to make the tackle.
However, how quickly does the safety diagnose and close on the ball once he gets a chance? That is where the second part is a little too lenient. A good safety makes the play right behind where the player who messed up would have made it. That is the definition of cleaning up a play. A lot goes into that process however, and that is why both DEN safeties are lacking.
The third part of knowing the assignment helps in the passing game for sure when grading, but in the run game if you can see it you can grade it. False steps, slow to react, poor angles, poor situational awareness, and a lack of closing speed to make the play haunts DEN's safety play. That is the difference in making a play short of the first down marker or letting the offense get 3 more plays.
As for the front Seven, they got pushed around at NE, but they had not been pushed around before that. NE just had their number and they played with them all game long until the fourth quarter. In the fourth, they played lights out. The same thing could not be said for the safety play. They were just as hesitant and lost in the fourth as the rest of the defense was before that.