5 Questions About Charles Woodson at Safety (and maybe a few answers)
By now you’ve probably all heard that the Packers plan to have Charles Woodson line up at safety this season.
To try and figure out exactly what that means for Woodson, the defense and the Packers, I asked myself five questions. I even tried to answer a few of them. Unfortunately, we won’t know if any of those answers are correct until the season is underway.
Q: How often will Woodson line up as a safety?
A: So far it looks like it will mainly be in the Packers’ base 3-4 formation, which they played about 25 percent of the time last season. I think the days of Woodson lining up one-on-one on the outside against a WR are over, but it is something we’ll have to watch as camp progresses. The development of M.D. Jennings and Jerron McMillian will probably factor in as well. If they don’t step up, I suppose we could see Woodson at safety in some sub-packages as well.
Q: Does Woodson have the mindset to play safety?
A: He takes a lot of risks. If Woodson sees a window to make an interception, even if it’s a tiny window that’s closing quickly, he’s going for it. That mindset has worked for Woodson the Cornerback…most of the time. It’s fine to let a corner with Woodson’s talent and instincts take risks because there’s usually a safety behind him in case the decision backfires. But now Woodson is the safety. If one of his risks backfires, the only thing behind him is a clear path to the end zone.
Q: How much of an adjustment is playing safety for Woodson?
A: It’s not like Woodson has been a straight-up cover-cornerback the last few seasons. Dom Capers moves him around, usually sticking him in the slot or trying to get him around the ball so his playmaking ability takes over. We’ll have to wait and see if the 35-year-old’s role will be much different at safety. I don’t think it will be a major change, but I also think it’s a more difficult move than casual fans might think.
Q: What does this move say about the Packers CB depth?
A: This move would not have been made if the Packers felt they were lacking at CB. The Packers have had serious problems in pass coverage for two of Dom Capers’ three seasons as defensive coordinator. While Woodson is no longer a shutdown cover guy, he still makes a ton of plays. The last thing you want to do with a playmaker on a sketchy defense is mess with his position if there isn’t adequate talent to fill in behind him.
Q: Is moving Woodson to safety a good idea?
A: I’ve always been skeptical. I think Woodson takes too many risks to be the last line of defense. But the Packers probably won’t use Woodson as a last-line-of-defense type of safety. My guess he’ll still do a lot of things he did in the slot, but do them from a different position every now and then. It’s still early, ask me this question again in October.——————