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Division Links: BtB names an NFCE “super team” and discusses Xavier Woods & Clinton-Dix as a “top five” safety tandem

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Chicago Bears v Oakland Raiders Photo by Jack Thomas/Getty Images
Blogging the Boys

Who would make your NFC East super team?

Offense

QB: Dak Prescott

RB: Saquon Barkley

WR: Amari Cooper

WR: CeeDee Lamb

WR: Michael Gallup

TE: Zack Ertz

LT: Tyron Smith

LG: Brandon Scherff

C: Jason Kelce

RG: Zack Martin

RT: Lane Johnson

Defense

DE: Chase Young

DT: Fletcher Cox

DT: Gerald McCoy

DE: DeMarcus Lawrence

LB: Blake Martinez

LB: Leighton Vander Esch

CB: Darius Slay

CB: Kendall Fuller

CB: James Bradberry

S: Landon Collins

S: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

Blogging the Boys

Why trade for Jamal Adams when the Cowboys already have a Top 5 safety tandem?

There is sentiment among some that the current Cowboys safeties are better than they get credit for.

For a team looking to add a missing piece to make a championship run, the last thing they want to do is start taking away pieces.

If [Jamal] Adams is to come to Dallas, it needs to be for draft picks, and even that is not all that desirable considering how well the Cowboys have been drafting lately. All these different options come with a cost, but hey - that’s the nature of the beast. To get something, you got to give up something.

But maybe there is another option all together - stand pat with the guys you got.

what if we told you that the Cowboys already have a top five safety tandem? At least that is what Pro Football Focus believes as they recently ranked the top safety duo’s in the league. And guess which pairing sneaks into the top five...

5. HA HA CLINTON-DIX & XAVIER WOODS, DALLAS COWBOYS

Both Clinton-Dix and Woods have earned top-20 coverage grades over the last two seasons, combining for a total of 34 turnovers during their brief NFL careers.

Both safeties have proven to be more than efficient when featured in a man-coverage scheme. Over the last two years, Clinton-Dix has the second-highest man-coverage grade (87.8) among the 31 qualifying safeties over that period, while Woods (70.2) ranks 17th. Together, they’ve allowed only 19 receptions from 31 targets in man coverage, giving up only 151 yards and a touchdown while coming away with six combined interceptions.

Clinton-Dix’s recent production has been somewhat overshadowed by his frequent moves and the lack of a long-term contract. But with a second-ranked man coverage grade (88.6) while aligned in the box and a 10th-ranked run-defense grade (79.7) when aligned as a slot-defender, Clinton-Dix has proved to be as versatile as any safety in the game.

Big Blue View

Ranking the Giants’ trade pieces

Let’s take a look at the five trade pieces the Giants have, based on value to other teams and the likelihood of being jettisoned.

Honorable Mention - Kevin Zeitler, OG

5: DeAndre Baker, CB

4: B.J. Hill, DL

3: Dalvin Tomlinson, DL

2: Golden Tate, WR

1: Evan Engram, TE

Big Blue View

Summer School 2020: The Air Raid Killer defense

We’re going to be taking a look at the “Air Raid Killer” defense, a scheme which could figure into how the New York Giants play defense in 2020.

This scheme, also also lends itself to the stacked dime or three-down dime, was born in 2017 in Iowa State. That year the Cyclones started the year with a 2-1 record as they entered their idle week. That might seem all well and good, and most teams would probably take the break to assess their first three games and fine tune their game plan as they went into conference play.

But that one loss wasn’t easily ignored by head coach Matt Campbell and defensive coordinator Jon Heacock. They gave up 44 points at home to in-state rival Iowa in a 44-41 overtime loss, and the coaching staff took it as a sign that they needed to change something as they went into Big XII play. They didn’t just change something, they decided on a course of action which easily could have been career-threateningly stupid, but wound up being courageous and inspired.

They scrapped their entire defense and rebuilt it from the ground up.

The Air Raid Killer (or as Iowa State calls it, the 3-3-3 defense) is built on a Tite Front, reaping all the benefits of that front when it comes to stopping the run. However, the Tite Front’s greatest strength, concentrating seven defenders inside the tackles, is also its weakness and teams could still find yardage by attacking the flat through the air or with relatively common counter or split zone running plays.

Iowa State stumbled upon a scheme which accounts for that weakness. By spreading their linebackers out, Iowa State is able to account for outside runs without having to worry about players having to navigate misdirection or bodies around the line of scrimmage. They’re able to do so by replacing one of their inside linebackers with the “MS” or “middle safety.”

The middle safety is a hybrid who blurs the lines between traditional safety and linebacker. By replacing the linebacker with a speedy coverage player, Iowa State is able to cover enough ground to justify keeping their outside linebackers wide. With their outside linebackers wider, they can act as force players and account for the C-gaps outside the tackles.